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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions

That Night

1. One of the biggest issues this book raises is that of the prison system. It’s supposed to be “innocent until proven guilty,” but that doesn’t seem to be the way it goes for Toni and Ryan. After reading this book, how do you feel about prisons, and the way we go about convicting accused criminals? Do you feel differently than you did before?

2. This book brings up high school bullying. When asked if Shauna’s clique are based on reality, or purely fictional, Chevy Stevens has said that she discovered through her research how particularly vicious teenaged girls can be, and how sad it is that the parents of these children are often unaware of what is going on. What do you think of this serious topic?

3. We get a lot of different views of Frank McKinney throughout the course of the novel. Our first image of him is as a sad, lonely widower and our last is as a murderer. What do you think about his character?

4. Near the end of the book, Nicole’s old friend Darlene says, “Everyone thought Nicole was so perfect, but she was just good at pretending to be.” How did you feel about Nicole?

5. Comment on the nature of Toni and her mother’s relationship. Was it healthy? What do you think about the disparity in the way Mrs. Murphy treated her two daughters?

6. Toni finds a surrogate mother in Margaret, who is then suddenly taken away at the end of the novel. Discuss what you think about Margaret’s sudden decision to fight Helen, and how you feel about her subsequent death.

7. Toni refers to the friends she makes in prison as “the girls,” and feels an especially strong bond with them. On the other hand, the animosity in prison also feels especially intense. Do you think there’s something about the prison system that makes people develop especially strong feelings, whether negative or positive, towards each other?

8. Shauna gets away with a lot throughout the course of the novel. When talking about their days of friendship, Toni implies that a lot of this was due to a lack of adults taking an active interest in Shauna’s life. On the other hand, Toni also feels that her mother takes too much of an active interest in her life. Which girl do you think had it better --- the one with the mother who was always on her case, or the one with the absent father?

9. At one point, Ryan says to Toni, “Haven’t you heard? No one grows up in prison.” On the other hand, people often say throughout the novel that prison changes a person. What do you think about this incongruity? Are growing up and changing the same thing? Do you think Toni and Ryan are changed by, or grow up during, their time in prison?

That Night
by Chevy Stevens