Published: June 28th, 2016 by Bloomsbury Spark
I'm going to get straight to the point here: We Own the Night probably isn't the kind of contemporary that I would read over and over again like, say, Anna and the French Kiss or My Life Next Door, but it's fun, it's quick, and surprisingly emotional. As in I almost cried a few times.
"Happy midnight, my fellow Niteowls..."
As a candy store employee by day, and mysterious deejay "Niteowl" by night, eighteen-year-old Ingrid North is stuck between rock 'n roll and a hard place. She can't wait to get out of her tiny hometown of Steadfast, Nebraska (population three hundred and forty-seven) to chase her dreams, but small-town troubles keep getting in the way. She can't abandon her grandmother with Alzheimer's, or her best friend Micah--who she may or may not be in love with.
But for one hour each Saturday, she escapes all of that. On air, she isn't timid, ugly-sweater-wearing Ingrid North. She's the funny and daring Niteowl. Every boy's manic pixie dream girl. Fearless. And there is one caller in particular-- Dark and Brooding--whose raspy laugh and snarky humor is just sexy enough to take her mind off Micah. Not that she's in love with Micah or anything. Cause she's not.
As her grandmother slips further away and Micah begins dating a Mean-Girls-worthy nightmare, Ingrid runs to the mysterious Dark and Brooding as a disembodied voice to lean on, only to fall down a rabbit hole of punk rockstars, tabloid headlines, and kisses that taste like bubble tea. But the man behind the voice could be surprising in all the right, and wrong, ways.
And she just might find that her real life begins when Niteowl goes off the air.
Ingrid North is trapped. In her tiny town, in her life, in her head. She feels like she's stuck in Nebraska working in a store where she's miserable forever, and while her friends are moving on, she feels left behind. She lives with only her grandmother, who has Alzheimer's. She's really the only one there is take care of her grandmother. And this is really where my heart broke - Ingrid's struggles with her grandmother. Ingrid loves her grandmother so much, but she's also a teenager who's not meant to be the caretaker of someone like this, and the way she struggles with this felt so genuine.
"Is losing your memory painful? Or is it something that happens slowly, like sand slipping through your fingers, so slight you barely notice you're leaving bits of yourself behind?"In addition to that, Ingrid deals with bullying. Between her thoughts of being trapped and the way she always feels like she's not good enough, like someone like football player Billy could never be friends with her because she's not pretty and cool, I don't think I've related to a character that way in a long time. I know I've said it already, but I need to say it again. My heart broke for her.
"I see how small I am, and realize how easy it is for him to call me nothing. Am I nothing?"I AM IN PAIN.
When Ingrid's grandmother was diagnosed, Ingrid kind of went off the radar. Which is something Micah in particular holds a grudge for, which is pretty annoying, to say the least. I can't say much about the romance without spoiling the entire thing, but I will say this: Micah is a pretty horrible friend to Ingrid most of the time. He has his moments sure, but that doesn't make up for all the crap and I think the way that Ingrid's thoughts progress about him throughout the course of the book are realistic and really show her growth.
The radio aspect is cool, too. I really like that part of Ingrid's character, how important it is to her life, how she can become a different person at night. (Plus, her banter with Dark & Brooding is adorable, even though I knew exactly who the caller was pretty quickly.) And it's such a different hobby than anything I've ever done, so that made it fun to read about for me! Not that I would ever do it. Radio certainly takes away some of the pressure of being right in front of an audience, but me and any form of public speaking are basically enemies.
tl;dr: A quick contemporary that has a surprising punch of emotion to it. I did want more depth from most of the secondary characters (and for them to be a little nicer sometimes), but Ingrid herself was a really great main character because I connected to her so easily and the way her emotions came across felt painful, genuine, and true. 3.5 stars.