Because of the Night

Rue L’Hommedieu
Muse Literary (2022)
ISBN Number: 978-1958714065
Reviewed by Terri Stepek for Reader Views (01/2023)

“Because of the Night” is a creative, lively, and delightful read. Written for teens, many ages will easily enjoy this story. In fact, there were times I was convinced the author had hidden “Easter eggs” for the adults; little gems of humor that only those who lived in the last millennium will appreciate. 

Vicky, known as Icky within her family, is purely a teenage girl. With an ADHD diagnosis, she’s full of hormones, self-doubt, angst, and energy. Her twin brother is the “golden child.” He’s a brainiac with laser focus, not having to struggle with the myriad thoughts that collide through Vicky’s brain like a constant meteor shower. To make matters worse, the twins are forced to share a bedroom when their grandfather has a stroke and moves into the family home.

The story is told through Vicky’s point of view, which is witty, whiney, and wonderfully age appropriate. Her POV was one of the highlights of this entertaining yet provocative read. She’s convinced no one loves or understands her. In fact, she’s sure she’s in the wrong family, a theory that nearly every child seems to develop at some point. This draws the reader into an appreciation and understanding of Vicky and her high-drama attitude.

There are many great characters that help tell the story of Vicky’s night of revelation. Each one provides insight and even intrigue into the tale. My favorite personality was undoubtedly her grandfather. Yep. The one who had the stroke. His brain is still there, but his mouth no longer cooperates as it should. His only vocalizations now relate to his lifetime of work with the Department of Transportation. He speaks the language of road signs, and it’s hilarious. I applaud this creative character for not only adding entertainment value but as a reminder that some elders may have issues like her grandfather. He’s not an idiot. He’s just lost the ability to communicate verbally. Well done.

Our intrepid Vicky’s single-night journey is full of magic, surprise, and introspection. Grandpa and the Old Lady act as her guides as she discovers the true lives and feelings of her neighbors. Fans of the brilliant movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” may draw a similarity to Vicky’s journey and George Bailey’s. This comparison is valid, but their journeys are very different in style, voicing, and concept. After all, Vicky’s looking to find her “real family,” not the crazy one she must have been dropped into.

The author uses many creative elements to expand this story. The Old Lady takes Vicky on her journey in a boat that rides a stream that has suddenly appeared in the roadway. Grandpa steers the boat, which starts out on a tranquil waterway between the sidewalks. As the night continues, the stream becomes more dangerous, with fierce waves threatening the boat and its passengers. As Vicky relates it:

The way the agitated waves crash into the sidewalk reminds me of how the Old Lady’s lessons are smashing against my stubbornness.

I heartily recommend this book. Not only for the target age group, but for anyone who appreciates a great story with strong characters wrapped in the witty snark of a teenage girl. There truly is something for everyone within this age-defying read. In fact, I’ve put my money where my mouth is on this one: I gave a copy of this book to my teenage granddaughter, who is thoroughly enjoying the journey.

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