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In the Middle of the Night Hardcover – April 1, 1995
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From Publishers Weekly
Sixteen-year-old Denny wonders if his family will ever recover from the tragedy that predates his own birth: 22 children were killed in an accident at the movie theater where his then-teenage father worked. Publicly blamed although legally exonerated, Denny's father still receives hate mail and threatening calls; now that the 25th anniversary of the accident is nearing, Denny's parents step up their efforts to avoid reporters and curious strangers. But the seductive voice of an anonymous phone caller lures Denny out of isolation. Eager to meet the caller face to face, the teen enters into a dangerous game of cat and mouse, eventually landing in a situation as horrific as the one his father experienced years ago. One of the eeriest of Cormier's thrillers, this account of vengeance and obsession provides the brand of suspense that has earned him so many fans. Although the bizarre qualities of the psychotic mystery caller are, perhaps, overdrawn, most characters are convincingly and enticingly complex. Ultimately, the masterful crafting of the book's intricate plot and surprise ending more than make up for a few hard-to-swallow gimmicks. Ages 12-up.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Grade 7 Up?When a balcony collapsed during a special magic show in a rundown, neighborhood movie theater, 22 disadvantaged children died. Although he was never charged with any wrongdoing, John Paul Colbert, who was 16 at the time, was working as an usher and accidentally caused a fire that contributed to the tragedy. He resolutely refused to comment on what happened even after the theater's owner committed suicide and the public clamored for someone to be held responsible. Many of the victims' relatives blamed John Paul for the incident and tormented him into adulthood. Years later, his son Denny, now 16, begins to receive the same harassing phone calls. Resentful of his father's long passivity, Denny resolves not to follow in the man's footsteps. Intersecting plot lines rush together in an exciting climax that reveals the relationships between some key characters. Parallel in plot elements and themes to Cormier's previous YA titles, especially We All Fall Down (Dell, 1993) and Tunes for Bears to Dance to (Delacorte, 1992), this book seems more accessible, especially to horror/mystery fans. While grim and terrifying in some respects, this is not, in toto, a bleak novel. Its style is reminiscent of Jay Bennett's, with fairly long passages of dialogue that are heavy with foreshadowing. Unresolved details detract only slightly from the power of the prose to address the painful process of maturing and of beginning to understand and accept adult roles. Readers experience several time shifts and must discern the identity of several narrative voices while grappling with complex themes concerning tragedy, guilt, responsibility, and expiation. YAs willing to invest some intellectual effort will be amply rewarded by this sophisticated psychological thriller.?Joel Shoemaker, Southeast Jr. High School, Iowa City, IA
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top customer reviews
_In the Middle of the Night_ is a just step down from those three titles. Cormier seems like he is trying to make a complicated story out of a somewhat simple one, rather than making an even more complicated story out an already complex one (like in the other three titles). It didn't work as much for me. He could have done much more to develop the relationship between Denny and his father, which could have led to some very cool stuff toward the end. Denny's character didn't seem to have the depth of Adam Farmer, Jerry Renault, or Ben Marchand (characters in his other novels). Signature touches of surprise, even with subtle foreshadowing, and very credible dialogue make the novel still a good read. It just doesn't have the depth of his other great novels.
I'd hate to have a kid read this book first and not read another because it just isn't all that compelling. Read one of those other three first!
The year that Denny's father was sixteen, he was working at this show. When he heard a noise from the old and decrepit balcony they used for storage, his boss sent him up with a book of matches for light, to investigate. Once up there, Denny's father accidentally started a fire. Almost immediately the balcony collapsed onto the audience below, killing 22 children.
Although Denny's father's name was cleared and police found that the fire was not linked to the balcony collapsing, people needed someone to blame for the tragedy. After the theater owner, who had been ordered to have the balcony fixed, committed suicide, Denny's father was the only one left to blame.
All throughout Denny's life he has been protected very carefully by his parents. They have moved many times, but their moves have not stopped the phone calls his father receives in the middle of the night, especially when Halloween approaches. Denny has been given strict instructions never to answer the phone, and those are instructions he takes seriously--until the year he is sixteen. Denny is tired of the way his father takes all of this abuse, and he wants to do something about it. Then phone calls start coming for Denny. Who is calling him? The woman on the other end of the line sounds nice and friendly, but is she all that she seems?
I liked the way the book started in the present day but then went back and devoted so much time to Denny's father's life, in order to explain how the situation started. I also liked Denny's father's philosophy on why he didn't fight back when people called him. I didn't like that Denny's father blamed himself and that he didn't have anyone to tell him he wasn't at fault. I also thought Denny was incredibly stupid to believe the woman on the phone, since he knew about his father's past and he knew the types of people who called his house.
In his book In The Middle Of The Night he has it right. It is filled with twists and turns that are suspense- filled. The book is about a boy named Danny who could never answer the phone because of an incident that happened in his father's past. Someone in the world can't forget what happened and wants revenge. Now, Danny being 16 has the guts to answer the phone. The effect for answering the phone is that Danny has to face a lot of challenges. The theme of this book was that you shouldn't be afraid of new things and that you should be brave no matter what.
Robert Cormier, born in 1925 in Leominster, Massachusetts, was influenced by one of his teachers who told him he was a writer and he believed that. I believe that Robert Cormier wrote In The Middle Of The Night because of stuff that teens experience nowadays. He also wanted to teach something valuable and moral.
The quote ` The beautiful part of writing is that you don't have to get it right the first, unlike, say a brain surgeon. You can always do it better, find the exact word, the apt phrase, the leaping smile.' expresses a lot of rich information. It means that you should keep on trying no matter if it doesn't come perfect the first time. It also means to not be afraid to try new things. It takes time to find out the right word or sentence, but in the end it comes out worth while.
After I read the book In The Middle Of The Night, I figured anyone would enjoy the book, but mostly teens who have a high level in reading and those who like action books with a lot of mystery in them.
Most recent customer reviews
This is not Cormier's best book.Read more
On Halloween, eight years before Denny Colbert was born, his father was involved in a tragic accident at a Halloween show that killed twenty-two children.Read more