Monday, September 24, 2018

That Night - Review

That Night

By: Amy Giles

Expected Publication: October 23rd 2018 by HarperTeen

320 pages

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary

Source: Publisher via Edelweiss (Thank you!!)

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Goodreads description--One night in March, a terrible tragedy shakes the Queens neighborhood where Jessica Nolan and Lucas Rossi live.

The year since the shooting has played out differently for Jess and Lucas, both of whom were affected by that night in eerily similar, and deeply personal, ways. Lucas has taken up boxing and lives under the ever-watchful eye of his overprotective parents, while trying to put good into the world through random acts of kindness—to pay back a debt he feels he owes the universe for taking the wrong brother.

Jess struggles to take care of her depressed mother, with the help of her elderly next-door neighbor, and tries to make ends meet. Without her best friend, who’s across the country at a special post-trauma boarding school, and her brother, who died that night, Jess feels totally alone in the world.

When Jess and Lucas's paths cross at their shared after-school job, they start to become friends…and then more.

Their community—and their families—were irrevocably changed by a senseless act of violence. But as Jess and Lucas fall in love, they'll learn to help each other heal and move forward—together.

That Night is an emotional and ultimately hopeful story about tragedy, love, and learning to heal.

I don't know why it never occurred to me that this book could have been a huge political statement about gun control. Whatever the reason I didn't consider that doesn't really matter. What matters is That Night barely even mentions the event itself. I praise Amy Giles for taking this route. I was thinking toward the end of the book how glad I was that she didn't take the approach of turning this into some big political statement. The story is about how these characters overcome trauma and grief in their lives. The cause doesn't even really matter because any act of trauma could have resulted in the same struggles. Amy Giles does make a brief statement at the end of the book about gun violence and mass shootings but it was without political bias or trying to sway the reader which again I appreciate. This is the right way to go about approaching a topic like this in a book if you ask me. Kudos.

What I also love is how Amy Giles touched on and showed the many different approaches and responses to grief. Each character is dealing in completely separate ways. Marissa, who is Jess's best friend, has gone across country to a special school. Jess's mom is so deep into depression that she can barely get out of bed or function. Jess is not given the opportunity to grieve properly because she's having to step into the role of caretaker that her mom should be filling. This causes an added layer of grief, anger, and resentment. She occasionally self-medicates. Lucas's mom has gone into overprotection mode thinking she can try to prevent harm from coming to Lucas. You could see his dad's grief yet he seemed to have things together fairly well. And Lucas deals with PTSD and panic attacks, but he's in therapy working through his issues as well as taking a prescription medication. I loved seeing all of the different ways of processing and handling (or not) their shared trauma.

Jess and Lucas were so likeable. Jess is just trying to keep it together. Surviving from day to day. Lucas is in a much better place and going about things in a healthier way. I also enjoyed seeing how financial circumstances can play into a person's state of mind and the quality of help they're able to get. It was so easy to root for these two characters and I loved how their obstacles didn't have anything to do with whether or not to be together but what each character was struggling with in their own lives yet using the strength and love from the other to help them get through.

That Night was a fast read... one I didn't want to put down. I finished it really quickly. I loved the diversity in the character's grief process. Everyone was at a different place in his or her journey. Lucas was great and I loved how he didn't fight his emotions. Being in touch with his emotions really gave him the ability to be a rock for Jess. And I absolutely loved the two of them together. That Night gets 4.5 Stars. Have you read That Night? What did you think? Let me know!

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