Little Night - Luanne Rice
Released June 2012
Pamela Dorman Books
Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth
I'd heard from a few friends that Luanne Rice's latest book was awful when compared to her previous books. I admit, that led to my hesitation to start reading Little Night. I love Ms. Rice's novels, but friends were saying this book is darker and depressing. I wish now that I hadn't listened to them.
Clare Burke and her sister Anne were always close. With a father who was happier drinking and fooling around with other women, the two learned to depend on each other. When Anne marries a controlling, abusive man, he pulls Anne away from her family. Not willing to lose her sister to an abuser, Clare makes one attempt to save Anne, and almost succeeds, only he shows up right as Anne agrees to leave him. He attacks Anne, Clare attacks him with a burning log, and Anne supports her husband sending Anne to jail for two years.
Just shy of years later, the sisters have never spoken again. One afternoon, Clare receives a letter from the niece she hasn't seen in decades. The young woman is on her way to New York City and hopes she can stay with Clare. Meeting her niece for the first time in almost 20 years is an experience that leaves Clare seeking answers and wondering if her sister is beyond anyone's reach.
I adored Little Night. It's powerful. Anne makes horrible decisions yes, but then I have a friend who keeps marrying abusive men, and I don't know why she puts herself through it time and time again. Like Anne, she's smart, yet cannot seem to avoid making horrible choices. I think that's part of the draw. As absurd as some of these situations may seem, they do happen.
Grit is a tough cookie, and she's dealt with things that would horrify most anyone. Watching her come out of her shell really heightened the powerful narrative. Paired with Clare and Clare's long-time beau, it was fun watching Grit evolve. Her years of abuse ring true, especially with some of her self-destructive behaviors. That's what happens though, especially to those who didn't have a mother strong enough to protect them.
I have a feeling it's the ending that throws most readers off. I won't give spoilers, but I think Luanne Rice handled the ending honestly and realistically.
Little Night is a poignant story that's told with brutal honesty. Domestic violence isn't pretty. It does affect the psyche of those involved. That's what this story shares with all who read it.