Drug overdoses don't happen to girls with good grades and athletic prowess, with longtime friends and a devoted boyfriend. Or do they? When high school seniors Cassidy and Sarah, along with Kayla's boyfriend Paul, discover their best friend Kayla unconscious at a party, the idea that they have lost her to a heroin overdose is unbelievable. She didn't use drugs, except the pain medicine prescribed for a soccer injury, and she had no reason to accept any from a stranger. The month that follows her death is filled with anxiety, sadness, frustration, and questions. Answers won't bring Kayla back, however, so as Cass and Sarah struggle with the insensitive but predictable behavior of parents, classmates, and teachers, Paul falls into a depression that leads him down a dangerous path. With Kayla's younger sister Mia in mind, the three of them work towards forging ahead without the girl who has held them together since elementary school.
What I Loved:
I loved the message of Kayla’s story. Anyone can die from a drug overdose. That those who overdose are not just addicts and junkies. Anyone can fall victims to drugs and teenagers are especially at risk. Another important message of ‘That Night’ is that your bad choices can be dire and don’t just affect just you but everyone around you. Your decisions have the potential to affect your family, your friends, and even your community.
What Left Me Wanting More:
So, first thing is I found the process of the story to be extremely slow. For me there didn’t seem to be a definite plotline. There wasn’t a lot of progress in the story. Most of the book was just what Sarah and Cassidy were feeling about their friend’s death. There was a ton of internal dialogue and,other than Sarah and Kayla’s fights, very little action.
Another thing that was off for me was the justification that Kayla had a reason for using heroin. There was also a lot of scapegoating Kayla’s death. Since Kayla had a knee injury from soccer, she was in a lot of pain. Her parents and doctors ignored the pain Kayla was dealing with. There was also a lot of talk about how Kayla was not an addict, so somehow she was more of a victim. More of the story could have been focused on the bad decision that Kayla made and less on how her parents, doctor, boyfriend, ‘drug dealer’, were at fault. I believe that the story had a strong message about using drugs but I would have liked to have the story place more blame on Kayla.
My Final Judgement:
I applaud ‘That Night’ for taking on a very important social topic. I liked the range of characters and their individual reactions after Kayla’s death. ‘That Night’ is a great tool for opening up discussions about teen drug use.