I love books that enchant me from the first pages, and I’ve noticed that children’s books are especially good at this.

Upon opening “The Midnight Children” by Dan Gemeinhart, the dedication immediately caught my eye:

“For all the souls that I call family, whether by blood or by choosing; and for all those souls still finding theirs.”

And then the epigraph hooked me. It starts:

“All souls, each and every one, deserve a home and a family. Even yours. Especially yours. Every soul deserves love, and friendship. Yes, even yours. Every soul deserves to find where it belongs.”

The story is set in Slaughterville, a tiny town named for its local slaughterhouse.

(If this makes you cringe, I think that was the intention — the author provides apt, but not overly gruesome, descriptions of what it’s like to work in a warehouse that processes cattle.)

The book’s title becomes immediately apparent when Ravani Foster, who is sleepless on this particular night and looking out his window, sees a truck arrive and seven children get out. Six of them quietly slip into the abandoned house across the street.

The seventh, a girl about Ravani’s age, looks up at his dark window.

He waves.

She doesn’t — instead, she presses a finger to her lips as if to say “please keep this a secret.”

Then she follows the other children into the house.

Intrigued, Ravani is determined to learn more about these mysterious children who arrived at midnight, under the cloak of darkness.

He sets about his investigation, but we soon learn about his troubles — a boy named Donnie, a quintessential bully who makes it his mission to make Ravani’s life miserable.

This includes calling him “Ravioli.”

Donnie is a bigger boy by far, and Ravani never has much chance to fight back — his tactic is to avoid the bully as much as possible.

I quickly fell in love with Ravani’s character — he is a clever boy who just hasn’t found a place to fit in and can’t find any common ground with his father.

But then he meets the new girl in person (her name is Virginia), and slowly gets to know this misfit family of kids who are fugitives from an orphanage and trying to make it on their own.

Virginia is very much the opposite of Ravani — she is bold where he is timid, and she has a way of speaking the truth that helps Ravani finally find his true self.

Their friendship is an example of how sometimes another person, no matter how different they are from you, is a perfect puzzle fit to your personality.

“The Midnight Children” is a mystery, and an adventure story, and a tale of how it feels when a soul finds a true companion. This book is for anyone who has ever felt lost or alone — and truthfully, haven’t we all felt like that at one time or another?

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