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That Night by Chevy Stevens

That Night (2014)

by Chevy Stevens

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I thought this book was quite good. It follows Toni before and after the events of the night her sister Nicole was murdered. This storyline was really thought out and interesting. ( )
  relativelybooktastic | Nov 22, 2017 |
That Night - Chevy Chase

I'm a little split on how I feel about this book. Maybe split isn't even the proper word... more like confused I guess. It was not a particularly well written book and there was about a million things that bugged me about the story ranging from small annoyance to absolute ridiculousness.
Ms. Steven's novel is what I think of as "A Lifetime Book." Its what happens when someone writes a Lifetime movie but as a novel instead of a screenplay. In spite of the change in media format all the necessary story components are here high school girls, bullies, murder, a narcissistic psychopath, false imprisonment, family drama and a seemingly never ending stream of downer life obstacles for our protagonist. Told via dual timeline narrative (aka literary a Lifetime movie flashbacks) all tied together up with a constant strand of poor story/character development. In its' favor this book has the same thing going for it as a lifetime movie does... once you start in it becomes storytelling crack. Doesn't matter how many quality flaws I ran into throughout the pages or how many other books are waiting on the TBR pile. This book held me to the end!

ok, onto our story, as I mentioned the books chapters are written as a dual storyline one storyline starts in like 1998 where we meet 20yr old Toni Murphy who's being taken to prison after she and her boyfriend have been sentenced to 15 years for allegedly killing Toni's younger sister, Nicole, the summer following their High school graduation ( pssst... back then Canada Secondary schools still went to Grade 13. Took me a bit to figure out why they were twenty the year after they graduated. I have gone astray...) anyway, this timeline continues through her 15 year sentence, her different levels of probation, and her return to her hometown.

Timeline #2 Begins with Toni in her last year at High School and tells the backstory of events until this timeline eventually merges into timeline #1

To be honest I felt that both of these timelines carried on for way to much empty filler plot. Actually that's not correct the filler plot is empty its always present in the form of some sort of big life obstacle for Toni. It's actually pretty absurd especially when you give your character the last name Murphy. Toni's Life without a doubt held up to her name. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong.
Toni lives with her family in a small town near the Vancouver River. We learn about her sociopath of a childhood friend, Shawna, She's basically a very hardcore version of the head high school mean girl trope. When Toni starts dating a boy named Ryan whom Shawna also causes her to go into psycho overdrive and her harassment, manipulation, rumor spreading escalates throughout their last year of high school till Toni literally has no one but her boyfriend who will talk to her. Unless its Shawna & her click yelling insults at her.

Meanwhile back at the Murphy home is Toni's absolutely horrible mother. Who apparently thinks her daughter is delinquent on her way to a life of deplorable behavior because she likes grunge bands and dresses in grunge style clothing. It's 1997-98 in a town that's only a couple hours drive from Seattle. In other words her music and clothing preferences where actually quite mainstream for the time. As the story progresses her mother becomes increasingly mean to her "bad daughter" while treating her other daughter like she is an angel. As the story progresses the mother's behavior continues to worsen without any real satisfactory explanation as to why she so blatantly prefers one child over the other.

Then we have little sister Nicole. Who is supposedly this perfect child but thinks its totally a-ok with ditching her best friend from childhood in order start hanging out with evil Shawna and her clique in spite of knowing how they treat her sister. In fact, she actually joins in on occasion. In spite of this Toni and Nicole actually have a pretty decent relationship. They squabble to a normal degree but its clear that Toni tries to look out for her sister as much as Nicole will let her. Meanwhile Nicole has turned into a party child who sneaks out drinking hard and is actually brought home wasted by Shawna's police man father. But it's cool because their mom has no problem being understanding with her one child whom she inexplicably just simply likes better.

Then in the final weeks leading up to her murder Nicole acts seriously depressed, loses weight, her mean girl friends are all MIA & acts terrified of something. All of which Toni takes careful notice of but only manages a half-assed job of being worried about it. So eventually a summer night arrives where Toni and her BF are planning to go to the beach to drink and hangout. Nicole acting terrified of something yet again begs her sister to let her come along. The three of them head to the beach. Toni and Ryan go off on their own in spite of Nicole still being very fearful of something and refusing to even leave the car while on her own. So She leaves her sister in a car for a few hours in order to smoke some weed and sleep with her Ryan both sexually and literally. Because who doesn't go off and nap while their sister is waiting back in an empty car on a mostly empty beach?
Well they certainly learned there lesson on that because of course when they finally return they discover Nicole naked and bludgeoned to death floating in the water.

Then we're suppose to accept that a perfect storm of law enforcement/judicial incompetency occurs. The evidence available is circumstantial at best and inexplicable at worst. The best criminal attorney in town who represents apparently didn't hire his own investigator or find an expert witness to contest the dna results and then he recommends she pass on a jury trial and just try the case t the judge. That's implausible. I mean I guess I'm assuming Canadian law is pretty similar to the US. But all you need is one juror to be on your side statistically a jury trial would always be the better option. But hey who cares about reality. Oh & yeah Bitchy Shawna and her friends show up and testify against Toni with completely invented stories for reasons unknown but it doesn't matter because of course Mr. Defense attorney wouldn't bother to try and prove they were lying or look into the reason 4 girls would intentionally pin false accusations of murder on someone. I mean bullying is one thing 15 years in prison is another. but who cares we have a main character who needs to be falsely imprisoned so we'll turn blind eyes to reality and follow Toni to Prison.

After many chapters about prison life and halfway houses none of which really add much to the story. Toni eventually returns to her home town where she meets up with Ryan gets harassed more by Shawna and then within a matter of a couple weeks and after talking to a few witnesses (witnesses who talked to police and had conflicting stories but of course her attorney didn't bring into court.) Anyway she quickly figures out who the killer is and conveniently gets a confession on tape and has a reliable witness in addition to the video. Then eventually the police end up with 5 detailed confessions.

So naturally in this world of melodramatic woe law enforcement/judicial system decide that the 2 people who've served 15 yrs for a crime they didn't commit. Will now return to prison since they broke the rules of their parole. Yep, the parole they should never have been on for a crime they never committed. In a normal world the local government would realize they were about to have a very pricey lawsuit coming their way and wouldn't have worsened the situation by sending them for additional months in prison while waiting for red tape to clean up the mess. Then last but not least the cherry on top is that after believing her own daughter was a murderer and abandoning her for 15 yrs upon finding out Toni was innocent all along. Does she apologize and beg for forgiveness? Appreciate her chance to have a daughter back? nope. Her mother actually doesn't give a damn about any confessions or arrests but instead insists it's still Toni's fault for taking Nicole to the beach that night and tells her she never wants to speak to her again. Which is bat-shit crazy enough on its own but, of course there's The murders openly admitted they actually been waiting outside the house for Nicole and then followed them to the beach once seeing them leave. So it really wouldn't have mattered where she was the end result would've been the same. But freedom on its own just doesn't have enough misery involved. so the author threw in a little more of irrationally hateful mom. ( )
1 vote Jessica.Leigh | Mar 17, 2017 |
Toni Murphy’s life has its share of typical teenage angst, but classmates determined to fill her life with misery push her almost to the breaking point. Nothing seems easy for Toni and when her younger sister is brutally murdered, she and her boyfriend soon become the prime suspects.

Although she insists she is innocent, Toni spends seventeen years in prison before being paroled to her hometown where ignoring the past is impossible even when her only goal is to avoid violating her parole in order to keep from going back to prison. High school might be long behind her, but Toni may have to unravel the secrets of the past if she hopes to have any future.

Told alternately in the present day and in high school flashbacks, this suspenseful tale follows Toni through the emotional vicissitudes that accompany the horrific events surrounding her sister’s murder and her subsequent conviction and imprisonment for that crime. Teen Toni is not particularly likeable, but readers will empathize with her situation as the mean girls carry out their vicious schemes. With no support from her dysfunctional family, it’s easy for readers to see why the teen’s behavior is so out of control. But readers will root for adult Toni to make a new life for herself outside of prison, even if that means not pursuing the answers to her sister’s murder.

Strong characters, relatable situations, and a twisty plot where nothing is exactly as it seems all join forces to make this gritty, emotional tale one that will keep readers on the edge of their seats. The unexpected reveal near the end of the book adds an unanticipated dimension to the story. And while the fallout from bullying may not always be as horrendous as it is in this narrative, readers will recognize why such behavior should never be acceptable.

Highly recommended. ( )
  jfe16 | Mar 16, 2017 |
Toni is an 18 year old with a disreputable boyfriend and authority issues. Her sister Nicole is a quiet, well behaved studious 16 year old who has secrets of her own. When she is murdered the finger of suspicion points at Toni and her boyfriend Ryan and they are convicted and sent to prison.
This isn’t really a who dunnit story. As readers we know Toni is innocent and as the story is revealed by flashback you get a gradual picture of what might have happened that night. The ending is a bit formulaic and if you’re looking for a twisty crime novel you might be disappointed. I’ve read ‘Still Missing’ and it was a much better crime novel than this. Where I did enjoy this story however was from an emotional standpoint. The sheer frustration at being locked up for something you didn’t do and at the same time grieving for your sister. How the parents cope with one child dead apparently by their other child’s hand, as a parent this really made me focus on how I would feel in the same situation. Strangely enough the most enjoyable storyline for me was the love story between Toni and Ryan. I hate romance novels but something about their relationship really touched me.
Overall it’s a good read, I enjoyed it and it certainly made me think. Best of all its got a really cute dog in it and that gets it an extra star straight off.

( )
  angelaoatham | Feb 21, 2017 |
A riveting tale of a young woman convicted of a murder she didn't commit. Interesting insight on being in and getting out of prison. ( )
  PleasantHome | Dec 26, 2016 |
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For all the people around the world who dedicate their lives to helping animals, whether it be working in shelters, volunteering, forming rescue groups, or fostering animals in need.  Thank you.
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I followed the escorting officer over to Admissions and Discharge, carrying my belongings in a cardboard box--a couple pairs of jeans, some worn-out T-shirts, the few things I'd gathered over the years, some treasured books, my CD player.
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"Toni Murphy was eighteen when she and her boyfriend, Ryan, were wrongly convicted of the murder of her younger sister. Now she is thirty-four and back in her hometown, working every day to forge and adjust to a new life on the outside. She's doing everything in her power to avoid violating her parole and going back to prison. But nothing is making that easy--not Ryan, who is convinced he can figure out the truth; not her mother, who clearly doubts Toni's innocence; and certainly not the group of women who made Toni's life miserable in high school and may have darker secrets than anyone realizes. Before Toni can truly move on, she must risk everything to find out the truth and clear her name"--… (more)

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