That Night, by Amy Giles
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Release Date: October 23, 2019
Length: 320 pages
Times Read: Once
Rating: + a million
An emotional sophomore YA novel from acclaimed author Amy Giles, perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen and Jennifer Niven, about tragedy, love, and learning to heal.
The year since a mass shooting shook their Queens neighborhood has played out differently for Jess and Lucas, both of whom were affected by that night in eerily similar and deeply personal ways.
As Jess struggles to take care of her depressed mother, and Lucas takes up boxing under the ever-watchful eye of his overprotective parents, their paths converge. They slowly become friends and then something more, learning to heal and move forward together. But what does it mean to love after an unspeakable tragedy?
What I Liked: I’ve been a huge fan of Amy’s since her debut last year, so when her publisher sent me her newest book over the summer, I sat down and read it all in one day. And friends, it was wonderful.
♥ Jess & Lucas. Told in alternating perspectives, this is such a shared story that I don’t even want to separate them. Both lost a brother the night of the shooting, and a year later, they’re grieving and just trying to manage. It takes awhile for their romance to get off the ground after they start working together, because at first Lucas doesn’t want much to do with her. He has a hard time with the thought of spending time with someone who knows so much about what he’s going through. But don’t worry guys, Jess has got this:
She cares not that Lucas doesn’t want her working at the same place at him, because she needs the money and she’s staying. Within time, they become friends, and eventually begin the sweetest romance. They’re able to find comfort in each other, and to learn to lean on each other. Their love story doesn’t hinge on a love triangle, or drama wondering if they want to be with each other, but instead is all about everything else that’s going on in their lives. Watching them alone together, with their friends, at work…it’s all just the best. And when we did see them alone?
♥ Pete. Pete is Lucas’ best friend, and he is like, the best friend. He cares so much for Lucas, and is always looking out for him, even when Lucas doesn’t like what he has to say. He’s the kind of friend everyone needs in their life.
♥ The Aftermath of a Tragedy. There are a lot of pieces to this one, but here’s the biggest: this book is JUST the aftermath. There’s no flashback to the night where it happened where we see the whole scene and meet all the players, no reveal where it all comes out. This is just the after. This is just the people who are left, trying to figure out how to move on and heal. Did we even learn anything about the shooter in the end? I honestly don’t remember, because it doesn’t matter. This isn’t about him, and it isn’t even about “that night.” It’s all about what you do after that night, and how you go on.
Another piece to this is seeing how incredibly different two mothers react to the tragedy of losing a son, and how to parent the child that remains. Lucas’ mom overcompensates with wanting to protect Lucas at all costs, and prevent any harm that may come his way. But Jess’ mom? She’s barely functioning, and Jess has had to kind of take on the parent role to make sure that shit gets taken care of in her house, which really wears on her.
♥ Pro-therapy. Lucas isn’t ashamed to go or to talk about going to therapy, and I liked seeing parts of his sessions. He doesn’t hide his emotions, and this is what we need more of in YA–boys who don’t fight their feelings. I also liked the discussion of medication in a positive light.
What I Didn’t: But why is there not more book?
Favorite Quotes: “Time feels unstuck with Lucas. Like I’m moving forward finally. I like where i’m heading.”