The Night Child

The Night Child: A Novel
Anna Quinn
Fiction
Blackstone Publishing
January 30, 2018
Kindle, Hardcover, Audio
240

Nora Brown teaches high school English and lives a quiet life in Seattle with her husband and six-year-old daughter. But one November day, moments after dismissing her class, a girl's face appears above the students' desks -- ''a wild numinous face with startling blue eyes, a face floating on top of shapeless drapes of purples and blues where arms and legs should have been. Terror rushes through Nora's body -- the kind of raw terror you feel when there's no way out, when every cell in your body, your entire body, is on fire -- when you think you might die.''

Twenty-four hours later, while on Thanksgiving vacation, the face appears again. Shaken and unsteady, Nora meets with neurologists and eventually, a psychiatrist. As the story progresses, a terrible secret is discovered -- a secret that pushes Nora toward an even deeper psychological breakdown.

This breathtaking debut novel examines the impact of traumatic childhood experiences and the fragile line between past and present. Exquisitely nuanced and profoundly intimate, The Night Child is a story of resilience, hope, and the capacity of the mind, body, and spirit to save itself despite all odds.

Content Note: This book deals heavily with childhood sexual abuse, repressed memories, and psychological trauma.

 This book was a difficult read, and thusly this review will be a difficult albeit brief review.

This told the tale of Nora and her gradually cracking psyche. Nora is a high school English teacher who begins to see things – have hallucinations – right before Thanksgiving break.

The hallucinations worsen enough that she eventually seeks psychiatric help, then later, is admitted into inpatient care as she’s become a danger to herself and others.

She has a small daughter and a husband and a seemingly perfect life, but when the memories of the sexual abuse she suffered as a child begin to surface, it threatens not only her marriage but her perceptions of her husband and his close relationship with their daughter.

Her mainstay – besides the daughter she knows she must recover for – is her therapist and a fellow teacher who sticks by her.

The book itself is very well written. Anna Quinn has done a marvelous job of recreating the trauma physical and sexual abuse have on a person, even decades later, as well as dealing with the way that various friends and family react to the news.

My favorite scenes were those from her classroom. Maybe that’s the nerdy girl in me, or the one that got her BA in English lit, or the one that still loves words like whoa, but those scenes broke up the hard scenes enough that I was able to finish the book.  I found this particularly hard to read as I have a son the same age as both Nora’s daughter and Nora herself when the abuse began.

The book is classed as a psychological thriller, and it certainly reaches deep into your psyche. Anna Quinn is an amazing author and was this any other subject, I’d give it an unreserved 5-stars. I look forward to reading more from the author going forward.

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