One Night Review
One Night, the debut novel of Dan Daniel Odia, is a stirring coming-of-age tale.
Kimia, a first-generation Congolese American living in San Antonio, Texas, is at a crossroads between her very sheltered life and the dangerous neighborhood that surrounds it. This dangerousness quickly engulfs her life and the life of her family the first time she attempts to flirt with the boundaries immediately outside of her home, changing their lives forever.
Although the beginning of the novel is quite slow, Odia makes up for this by masterfully building the intensity leading up to the story's climax. He is able to create an engaging series of happenings that leave the reader wanting more and more. This is further amplified by the entanglement that is revealed throughout the text as the degrees of separation among the characters become more intertwined.
As the story progresses, so does the heartbreak. This is a heartbreak not only experienced by the novel's main characters, but also by any reader with emotions. At some point though, the melodrama feels excessive and begins to saturate the story. This aspect coupled with the awkward handling of race and the sometimes spotty and unclear transitions hinder the story. Furthermore, there are times when it is difficult to determine the narrator, and indeed to differentiate between the voices of the author and the main character.
There were however many beautifully crafted poetic moments laced throughout the Text's entirety, and a compelling theme of death, particularly as it relates to the tragedies of sexual assault and the criminal justice system. The use of quotes to open the chapters and the circle story technique are refreshing and add tremendous depth to the storyline.
Ultimately, One Night is a powerful tale of perseverance and hope, and a noteworthy debut. Given that there are some untied ends, a sequel would surely prove to be satisfying.