Book: THE NIGHT CHILD
Author: Anna Quinn
Publisher: Blackstone Publishing
ARC?: Yes, provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: 1/30/2018
TW/CW: child abuse, graphic sexual abuse of a child, blood mentions, needle mentions, hospitalization for mental disorder.
Rep: Schizophrenia (never said as exact diagnosis), multiple personalities/split consciousness, child sexual assault survivor.
All Nora Brown wants is to teach high school English and live a quiet life in Seattle with her husband and six-year-old daughter. But one November day, moments after dismissing her class, a girl’s face appears above the students’ desks—a wild numinous face with startling blue eyes, a face floating on top of shapeless drapes of purples and blues where arms and legs should have been. Terror rushes through Nora’s body—the kind of raw terror you feel when there’s no way out, when every cell in your body, your entire body, is on fire—when you think you might die.
Twenty-four hours later, while on Thanksgiving vacation, the face appears again. This time, it whispers, Remember the Valentine’s dress. Shaken once again, Nora meets with neurologists and eventually, a psychiatrist. As the story progresses, a terrible secret is discovered—a secret that pushes Nora toward an even deeper psychological breakdown.
There are some major, major trigger warning on this one. I wish there had been some hint that the “big secret” was that her father sexually abused her and I also wish that it hadn’t been so graphic. I’m not sure if I’ve just gotten so used to young adult and middle grade books that handle the subject more delicately, and even though, there was a little hint of what was to come right before the secret was revealed, it was still a huge shock that it was so graphic. Even more shocking was what happened when she told the priest what happened. If you decide to read this, please keep in mind that there is nothing glossed over about the abuse Nora endured.
I can’t speak on the split consciousness rep because that’s not something I have experienced, but I did feel like the mental health rep as far as the therapist and the hospitalization felt pretty real. I’m not sure that they would have allowed Nora to be alone with anyone but other than that once incident, it was fairly accurate.
I also enjoyed Nora’s utter devotion to her daughter, even when she was going through her mental breakdown. I’ve read a lot of novels where the parent gives up caring about their child when things happen and it was interesting to see Nora working very hard to break the cycle of mother/daughter neglect that she had experienced with her own mother.
The one thing I didn’t like in this book was the continued assessment that sex = a sound marriage. I think this story would have been a 5 star for me if Paul and Nora had pulled through this together and if the author hadn’t insisted that if a married couple aren’t having sex, it means one of them are cheating. There are many, many reasons why couples stop having sex and it doesn’t mean they lack love and trust in one another or that one partner is going to cheat.
Overall, I did enjoy this book. I would not, however, recommend this to anyone who is easily hurt by sexual abuse.