Reading Roundup: “What Happened That Night”

When golden boy Griffin Tomlin is found dead, the entire community is in shock. But his neighbor Clara knows that Griffin was not the all-around good boy that everyone else saw. When her sister, Emily, is charged in the death of Griffin, Clara is soon battling with guilt, isolation and grief until some unexpected friends decide to investigate for themselves. Did Emily really kill Griffin? Was Clara somehow to blame? What secrets was her sister hiding?

That synopsis does not even begin to describe the complexities and dynamics of this story.  I thought I knew it all — what happened, and why.  While some events were predictable, some were not. Never in my life have I read a book that has left me with such intense feelings.  This book had me feeling sad, mad, shocked, betrayed, happy, and everything in between.  Here’s why:

Clara is the main character of the story, and it is told from her perspective.  The story is told in two separate timelines–“the Before”, referring to before Griffin was murdered, and the present.  Clara has been in love with neighbor Griffin Tomlin for a while.  After a school performance of “Cinderella”, Griffin begins to see her in a new light and kisses her. This begins an infatuation with Clara that turns deadly.  Griffin is not the golden boy that everyone thinks he is, and Clara knows this more than anyone. 

When her sister Emily is arrested for his murder, Clara assumes she knows why.  Emily was protecting her, however, as the story progresses, we find that there was more to the story than that. While dealing with the aftermath of being the sister of the girl who murdered someone, Clara finds friends in Aniston and Kolby.  Aniston is writing a story about Emily and has theories about the case that she needs help proving.  Kolby was Griffin’s best friend and has had a crush on Clara for a while, leading the two to develop a relationship that is tested when Kolby discovers who his best friend really was.

This book had it all — love, murder, mystery, mental illness, bullying, sexual assault, sibling relationships, friendships.  Just when I would think that I had it all figured out, the author shook things up by adding another layer that I would have never expected.  I couldn’t stop reading, in the search for what really happened and why.

So, I loved the book. It is not my typical read, and I am surprised at how much I loved it. I would issue a warning though: This book has sexual assaults in it.  The details provided of the events could be a trigger of someone who has been a victim. 

I received an electronic advanced reader copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.  This has in no way influenced my review.

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