Tuesday, July 22, 2014

My take on: That Night

I have to liken That Night by Chevy Stevens to a Lifetime TV movie, but in a good way. There is lots of melodrama, teenage angst, and a murder. Sounds like a Lifetime movie doesn't it? On a lazy Sunday, I can easily get lost in Lifetime movie marathon and this book was no different.

I started this book on July 12th and finished it a week later. For me, that's an accomplishment. I'm usually reading several books at once, and occasionally one will get my attention more than others. That Night got my attention in a big way!

After sixteen years in prison, Toni Murphy is being released. She's returning to a hometown that still sees her as a murderer and an outcast. Why is she going back? Why would she want to encounter people who hate her? Even her parents, especially her mother, have doubts about her. What was Toni convicted of? The murder of her sister, Nicole. Toni and her boyfriend Ryan were convicted of her murder. Is Toni returning to prove her innocence? Or just to prove to everyone that she's a better person? I was intrigued by the plot!

As teenagers, Toni and Ryan lived in their own world. They were so in love that nothing else mattered. They dressed different. They talked different. They smoked pot. They drank alcohol. In the eyes of some, including Toni's mother, they were bad news. Toni's dad was always on her side, even when it made her mother angry. Nicole was different. She was the "perfect" child. The "good" child. She followed her parents' rules and got good grades, the very opposite of Toni. But Nicole had her parents fooled. Toni knew her sister was sneaking out at night to be with a boy, drinking, and hanging out with the neighborhood mean girls!

Shauna McKinney is the ultimate mean girl. During high school, she made Toni's life a living hell. But to everyone else Shauna and her cronies, Rachel, Kim, and Cathy, were good girls. They project an image of perfection, but Toni knew their true nature. Unfortunately, Nicole didn't see who they truly were. To the outside world, Toni is a foul-mouthed teenager. When Toni tries to expose Shauna, no one believes her -- no one except Ryan.

The story alternates between Toni's teenage years, her time in prison, and her time out of prison. There is a lot of suspense in the build up to "That Night." I kept turning page after page because I wanted to know what happened "the night" Nicole was murdered. After "That Night," Toni was never the same. She's full of guilt and pent up anger. What could she have done differently to prevent Nicole's murder? That's a central theme throughout the book. Several characters in this book, including Toni's parents, have to realize that holding onto guilt will get them nowhere.

I loved this book. Given the slow rate in which I finish books, it's an accomplishment and testament to the writing that I finished the book in a week. I really wish there was more. The payoff was satisfying, but I still wanted to read more of Toni and Ryan's story. There is certainly hope for their future, I just wanted to see more of that future.

Rating: O.M.G. !!!

Note: I received a copy of the book from the publisher (St. Martin's Press). That Night is the July selection for She Reads

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