Monday, June 16, 2014

That Night - Chevy Stevens

Summary: As a teenager, Toni Murphy had a life full of typical adolescent complications: a boyfriend she adored, a younger sister she couldn't relate to, a strained relationship with her parents, and classmates who seemed hell-bent on making her life miserable. Things weren't easy, but Toni could never have predicted how horrific they would become until her younger sister was brutally murdered one summer night.

Toni and her boyfriend, Ryan, were convicted of the murder and sent to prison.

Now thirty-four, Toni is out on parole and back in her hometown, struggling to adjust to a new life on the outside. Prison changed her, hardened her, and she’s doing everything in her power to avoid violating her parole and going back. This means having absolutely no contact with Ryan, avoiding fellow parolees looking to pick fights, and steering clear of trouble in all its forms. But nothing is making that easy—not Ryan, who is convinced he can figure out the truth; not her mother, who doubts Toni's innocence; and certainly not the group of women who made Toni's life hell in high school and may have darker secrets than anyone realizes. No matter how hard she tries, ignoring her old life to start a new one is impossible. Before Toni can truly move on, she must risk everything to find out what really happened that night.

But the truth might be the most terrifying thing of all. (Picture and description from

My Review: Have you ever known anyone who's been in prison for a crime they haven't committed? Yeah, me neither. But it's a scary thought, right? Being blamed for something serious—like murder—and having to actually serve the time as a convicted murderer and then carry that stigma around with you for forever. And what about being in prison itself? Not good. Not good at all.

And so this book is frightening. We're talking people paying for crimes, both committed and not, but more frighteningly, we’re talking about bullying that’s on a whole new level. Forget everything you've heard in your kids' elementary school training about bullying and what to do. This is bullying that is scary and abusive and ruins lives. And people die. Whoah.

One of the things I really enjoyed about “That Night” is the character development. The author doesn't create characters that are completely unbelievably good or unbelievably bad (although you'll hate the protagonist!), and therefore it gives the story a very authentic feel. To be sure, there are some seriously antisocial people in this book, but I felt like that added to the fear inherent in the story itself, as well as opening up a world in prison that, until now, I had only really imagined in "Prison Break." (And let's not even bring up season 2 and the Mexican prison!)

I have read many books in this genre, and although I wouldn't say that this one has exceptional literary-type writing, it is certainly on par with almost everything else I've read like it. The thing I loved about the writing was it was accessible—you're reading along and it's not like you're even reading, you're just living along with the characters, which I think is the sign of a good book. It's easy to get caught up in the fear of the situation (and ooh, its deelish) and lose yourself in the story.

I can't even commit to saying whether or not there is a twist at the end because I don't want to ruin it for you. Suffice it to say, if you're looking for a fast-paced, quick read (perfect to take your mind off summer stresses or even better, a vacay read), then this is your book. It's got just the right amount of suspense and reality to make it one of those fun summer reads.

My rating: 3.5 stars

For the sensitive reader: This book is similar to others in its genre in that there is language and violence (part of it takes place in prison…so…) and there is mention of sex. None of these are seriously hard-core like some of the Scandinavian authors in this genre, but it is certainly not completely clean.

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