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That Night [Paperback]

Alice McDermott
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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5.0 out of 5 stars That Night...a novel to remember May 20 2004
By Rachel
Have you ever felt that instantaneous smile that stretched upon your face, that unexplainable feeling deep inside yourself that makes you glow on the outside? Have you ever been in love with someone that everything else around you seems like a blur? Well, that is a description of the strong the bond of love is between the two main characters (Sheryl and Rick) are in the novel "That Night."
The story takes place in the summer of the early 1960's; in a typical long island suburb. On a street where every house was the same, where everybody in your neighborhood knew all there was to know about your family. The novel is narrated by a young girl who is Sheryl's neighbor.
Rick and Sheryl are two young teenagers who are deeply in love with each other even though Sheryl's family struggles with her decision of dating Rick. Sheryl escapes the reality of her father's death, and turns to Rick for comfort. "She had not been spoken to so directly, had not had anyone but Rick so directly meet her eye, since her father had died" (126.) After the horrifying news of her father's death Sheryl yet to finds out that she is pregnant with Rick's child. In the 1960's it was frowned upon if you were with child, but not married. As an embarrassment to her own town she is sent to Wayside, a school for troubled girls. "She took control of her daughter's tragedy in a way she had been unable to do with her own and turned the anger she had learned, the nastiness, to what would have seemed to her to be good use. For in these matters, it was well accepted at the time, the girl must disappear and the hoodlum boy never know" (53.)
This novel explores a troublesome time that Sheryl dealt with and then learned to overcome.
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5.0 out of 5 stars So Good, I Read it Once a Year Sept. 19 2003
By A Customer
This book is fantastic; definitely McDermott's best. Readers who compare it with the movie aren't really being fair, because the movie changes the end of the story completely, though I have to admit that if I hadn't seen the movie, I would never have read the book.
First of all, as an English major and fellow writer, I have to say that the writing here is fantastic! McDermott is poetic, eloquent, and has an uncanny knack for creating believable characters in a time and place that felt all too real. Although I was not alive during the 1960s, McDermott fully realizes not just the protagonists of That Night but all the less central characters as well. Many stories are told in this novel, and in the end the collective storytelling method comments not just on two ill-fated teenage lovers, but on a time, a place, and an entire era that has since passed.
My advice is this: read the book AND watch the movie. Both realize McDermott's vision in totally different ways, though the book feels more true-to-life concerning the nature of first love.
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1.0 out of 5 stars That night review June 5 2003
The movie "That Night," was a wonderful love story between the town sweetheart and the rebel, taking place in the late 1960's. Sheryl and Rick were the ideal couple, except for the fact that Sheryl's family and town had a big problem with Rick. As told by the watching 10-year-old neighbor Alice, she follows the relationship as if it were her own. The book on the other hand should not even be touched. It had no connection to the movie's main theme of love.
In the movie, the more Sheryl and Rick's love grows, the more the townsmen start to hate Rick and his bad-influence friends. When Sheryl becomes pregnant and is forced to leave Long Island and move to Ohio, Rick is heartbroken. Alice then secretly helps Rick find Sheryl and rekindle the love they once had. The book "That Night," by Alice McDermott takes on a whole other scenario, which was not significant in the movie. This makes it confusing to the reader. "That Night," in the book refers to the night Rick and his friends came looking for Sheryl and got into a huge fight with the town husbands. "That Night" in the movie refers back to the night where Sheryl and Alice snuck out of their homes and met up with Rick. The book throws the reader off, with all the flashbacks and referring to the night of the fight. You can't feel the characters in the book, or even try and relate to them. You have the usual love story with twp kids in love and a town trying to break them apart. The author shows no connection to this problem, or what actions they took to try and fix it. Instead, the narrator, Alice, referred back to the fight way too many times, and after a while, you lose interest. In the movie however, you can distinctly identify the problem, and relate to it.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic novel with extraordinary writing style Feb. 1 1999
By A Customer
Alice McDermott once again proves her best-selling author status in her novel THAT NIGHT. McDermott represents her original style of writing and her different point of view of important issues faced by the youth of today and yesterday. In this novel, she expands on a subject that is sometimes overlooked or shoved under the proverbial rug. This subject can be summarized in two words, teenage pregnancy. She uses her off-the-wall style of writing to enhance the importance of this subject and yet at the same time show the humorous side of it by portraying the story through the eyes of a child. Alice McDermott's purpose in writing the book That Night was to explore the other side of a teenage pregnancy, the side that deals with the emotions and feelings of the teens. She foreshadows the pregnancy by portraying the boyfriend as a hoodlum to begin with, so the pregnancy is believable and the relationship between the two teens is credible. Judging from the story, McDermott's values are somewhat flexible. She shows the relationship between the two kids as young and immature, yet she seems almost as if she condones the pregnancy. McDermott shows a moderately unbiased view towards the subject she writes about by continually shifting the focus to the young child through which the story is told. This act nonchalantly brings about the first person point of view from which she tells the story. McDermott's style is uniquely set apart from any other novel in its class. She jumps from present, into past, into present again, but she doesn't lose the attention of the reader somehow. Her tone is very laid back and conversational, yet she still shows her point of view in a very realistic manner. Read more ›
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved This Book!
I loved this book! I graduated from high school in 1959 and this book took me back, no doubt about it. Read more
Published on Nov. 25 2002
4.0 out of 5 stars INTERESTING
I did not find this to be the best of Alice McDermott's works, but I did enjoy it........Rick and Sheryl are high school sweet hearts. Read more
Published on July 12 2002 by LUV TO READ
4.0 out of 5 stars INTERESTING
I did not find this to be the best of Alice McDermott's works, but I did enjoy it........Rick and Sheryl are high school sweet hearts. Read more
Published on July 12 2002 by LUV TO READ
4.0 out of 5 stars INTERESTING
I did not find this to be the best of Alice McDermott's works, but I did enjoy it........Rick and Sheryl are high school sweet hearts. Read more
Published on July 12 2002 by LUV TO READ
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful!
This is one of my all time favorites. I first read it when I was barely out of my teens and identified with Sheryl, the teenager who becomes pregnant and is sent away to live with... Read more
Published on Dec 3 2000
2.0 out of 5 stars Too sketchy
I was eager to read the book after watching the film on BBC2 (England). I expected the novel to be more descriptive, imaginative and more three dimensional than the film but... Read more
Published on Aug. 5 2000 by Milly
2.0 out of 5 stars Another verbal window into the past
Once again,McDermott's verbal mastery takes you to the place of which she writes as clearly as if looking through a window on the scenes she describes so vividly. Read more
Published on Aug. 12 1999
1.0 out of 5 stars This Book Robs The Human Spirit Of Any Dimension
For some reason, people keep recommending this book as a romance. This book mocks romance with all the cold-blooded WASPy detachment of its setting. Read more
Published on June 13 1999
5.0 out of 5 stars McDermott makes magic of the moon!
If there is a synonym for splendid, it is THAT NIGHT. Reading this superior novel is like taking a journey down the suburban sidewalks of youth, cracked and weathered, but... Read more
Published on Dec 8 1998
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