CM . . .
. Volume XXII Number 22. . . .February 12, 2016
Luna Begay and her sister Issy are the best of friends but could not be more different. Luna is dedicated to her studies and proud of her Aboriginal heritage. Issy loves fashion, is outgoing, and likes to have fun. One night, Issy convinces Luna to go to a private school party with her. This is the night where the course of Luna’s life takes a drastic turn. At the party, Luna meets Jon who, at first glance, seems to be kind and sincere. But everything changes after he offers Luna a glass of wine. Little does Luna know that her Prince Charming is not what he seems. Jon slips a drug into Luna’s drink and rapes her.
Not only does Luna have to endure the humiliation of the whispers and assumptions made upon waking up and leaving the party after the attack, but she also has to deal with the physical and emotional aftereffects of the rape, the taunting, insults, and name calling as the gossip mill goes into overdrive, and the effects of racism related to the stereotypes some of her peers attach to her Aboriginal background. Luna decides that it is best to try to forget about what has happened to her, pretending the problem does not exist. But the reality of the situation hits her when she learns that she has become pregnant from the attack. When she can no longer hide her secret, Luna confides in her sister and discovers that she must make some life changing decisions for herself and her unborn child.
One Night is part of Lorimer’s “SideStreets” series. This series is a high interest, low reading level collection of books aimed at teens. The books are relatively short in length and are written with the intent of engaging even the most reluctant readers with their real life topics and authentic characters. The books in the series consist of short chapters and relatively straightforward vocabulary that is intended to hold readers’ attention.
This book deals with some serious topics that are timely and are issues teens are facing. One Night touches on aspects of racism, stereotyping, bullying, drugs, rape, and Aboriginal heritage. It would be well-paired with some recent news articles or other non fiction pieces on any of these topics. Whilst the reading level is listed at grade three, the content and topics covered are mature. For this reason, teachers and parents may want to have a discussion with students about the issues presented in the book before reading so that they know what to anticipate as the content may elicit strong emotion reactions and connections from some students. At the same time, the book does not go into too much detail in parts that could have been graphic, and so it could be used as a read aloud to introduce a unit or topic in a mature class of older high school students.
One Night sets itself up as a fast paced read right from the start. The plot takes off in the first few pages and is likely to continually hold readers’ attention. The prologue, which describes the aftermath of the assault, gives readers a sense of where the story is going. The characters in the book are both realistic and relatable. The way that they speak, act, and react to situations is likely to connect with readers and remind them of people they know and situations they have been in.
I think One Night will appeal to a wide audience of young people. The realistic subject matter, relatable characters, and fast paced plot will be of interest to both reluctant readers and strong readers looking for a quick read. The book is likely to encourage readers to think critically and develop empathy for Luna and the dilemmas she faces throughout the book. One Night is an engaging read that is sure to grab readers’ attention and never let it go.
Chasity Findlay is a high school English teacher and a graduate student at the University of Manitoba.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.