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“That Night” is a Statement on the Devastation Opioids are Doing to ALL Our Youth in this Country

July 24, 2018

Screen Shot 2018-07-22 at 6.59.42 PMCicely Wolfe’s That Night is more than a story of adolescent teen girls losing a friend to death, for we all understand the impact that loss has on youth. They are not at the point in their life to even think that there is an end to something they have only just started.  This at times, is why so many of our youth are fatalistic about the choices they make, the actions they take, and the procrastinating they do.  Not to say all of these themes are present in That NightIn the case of fatalism, that is definitely present, for readers are immersed into the emotional shocking accounts of Kayla –popular high school soccer player, friend and bestie with Sarah and Cass, and girlfriend to Paul– found dead from a heroin overdose at a house party.  What happens next is an account of the reactions these characters have to Kayla’s death, and their interactions with their peers, their families, and others in their community

What makes this book stand apart from other titles of this sort is that it gets the death out of the way; it gets the actual experience of opioid use out of the way; AND it pushes the impact the death and use of an opiate has on those that are left behind front and center.  Many who work with rehabilitating drug user will tell you that the user has no care for the trauma they bring to their families and love ones.  They will use them as they use the drug…until they use them up.  Even the drug addict that does care can’t control the physical need for the drug over their emotional senses.

This is not the case in That Night, however, for Kayla was not a user, Kayla was curious, someone whose first experience with opioids was the last.

There were many flags in Kayla’s story that led her to heroin, however.”

The huge one was the knee injury she suffered from playing soccer.  If anyone has an athlete in their home, they have experienced the desperation these children go through to get back on the playing field when they are injured. Some don’t seek out medical coverage for fear of being medically benched for the season.  This causes so many to play on the injuries, and this leads to prolonging and/or exacerbating the extent of what has been hurt.

For Kayla, she was going through similar issues of team-separation-guilt but was seeking medical attention.  The problem was that no one took her seriously about the pain she felt and her ability to cope with this pain.” 

tnquotePerhaps it was because they were fearful of her becoming addicted to the same thing that killed her, for it is well known that opiates have been used for centuries as a painkiller and that it is in many pain-killing drugs,  In a manner, this was one of the issues that really bothered me: the obsession of not having Kayla labeled an addict and the ignoring of her need for comfort from the knee injury.  As a reader, I found myself in constant irritation with the adults, due to the one fact that they refused to acknowledge and attend to her complaints and needs.  Just as Todd and Edward’s research* on the informational needs of teens who were addicted to drugs that looked in other places for help when no info was available in any of the libraries they went to (2004), youth do the same thing for almost anything they need help and information on.  Their sense of inquiry and need is so strong that if they can’t find it in one place, they start seeking out help from other places.  This can lead to serious trouble if they are not monitored, as in the case of Kayla.

Wolfe, who lives in Ohio and can speak on how the increase in drugs is nearly destroying towns and neighborhoods in the Ohio Valley Region, was not hesitant to put these issues up front and in the reader’s face.”

The loudest message for me is that the rampant availability of drugs in this country has so penetrated our society that it is now well ensconced in white middle-class America.  I say this because the use of drugs and its presence has been so stereotyped as an inner city issue involving the poor and people of color, until it seemed that no one even realized that the drug dealers who were selling to the users in the city were also selling in the suburbs and decided to increase their services where patrons could afford higher prices. It’s an even more scary issue that inner citer parents who have worked so hard to get their families out of the crime-laden inner cities, can’t get away from the drug sellers in the suburbs, and that suburbanites with history in the burbs can no longer see a safe _I loved the message of Kaylas story._- YA Books Centralfuture in a place they have lived for generations and felt as if they were safely cocooned from street crime.

To truly say this is one of the worse social issues we face in this society is an overstatement, for I feel the worse is that we face is that we are a country that fails to provide medical benefits to all its citizenry.   Our second worse social issue is that we are a country of wealth that grows food to feed the world, but not to feed us. It should not be an embarrassment that you are not rich enough to afford basics.  Our third is that with all this land and lumber and abandoned homes, there are homeless people.  My fourth is that I find it so strange that we can’t stop the illegal sale of drugs in this country when we know who’s selling, where they live, the route the drugs are delivered in, the dropoff points, the international points of origins. . .  My only answer is for this to continue in the manner that it is seen by the average citizen is because some folks in high up places are getting some pretty big payoffs, for this to continue.  The federal law enforcement and Drug enforcement are simply not that stupid.

I recommend this book for therapeutic reading circles with young adults who are experiencing grief from the loss of loved ones, stress from peers and family members who are users, as well as those who are and know someone who has a sports injury.”

This is also one of those stories that readers of  Gayle Forman’s If I Stay and Lauren Oliver’s Before I Fall will be attracted to.”

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Cecily’s books, which include That Night, are available on Amazon.  Click the screenshot to go to her Amazon author site for more information.


Please click on the screen below to go to Day 3’s Interview of author Cecily Wolfe.

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*Todd, R. J., & Edwards, S.  (2004).  Information seeking and utilization in relation to drugs.  In M. K. Chelton & C. Cool (Eds.) Youth information-seeking behavior (pp. 353- 386).


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