Title: What Happened That Night by Sandra Block
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 352 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
She doesn’t remember that night. But she will never be the same.
One moment, Dahlia is a successful Harvard student; the next, she wakes up from a party, the victim of a brutal assault. Her life veers into a tailspin, and what’s worse — her memory of the attack has been ripped away, leaving a cold rage in its wayke.
Now, years later, Dahlia is a tattooed paralegal suffering from PTSD and still haunted by that night. Until one day, a video surfaces online, and Dahlia sees her attack for the first time.
Now she knows what happened to her. And she knows who is to blame. Her rage is no longer cold, but burning, red hot.
And she is about to make everyone pay.
What Happened That Night by Sandra Block is an empowering novel of healing for a victim of a horrific sexual assault.
Five years earlier, Harvard college senior Dahlia Edelman attends a finals party where she is roofied and sexually assaulted by several men. With only brief flashes of memories of what happened to her and angry over her treatment by the police, she eventually falls into a deep depression and leaves Harvard before graduation. With the support of her best guy pal, Eli Sawyer, Dahlia is now getting her life back on track as she completes her degree through night classes while working as a paralegal. Her life is completely upended when she discovers someone has posted an appalling video of her sexual assault online. With the help of her friend, Daisy and her co-worker/friend James Gardner, Dahlia begins to uncover the identities of the men in the video in order to exact her revenge for the heinous and brutal assault.
Although Dahlia has not regained her memories of the night she was brutalized, she has taken many steps to regain control over her life. She still regularly talks with her counselor, she carries a weapon to protect herself and she has also taken self defense courses. Dahlia’s life is a little solitary as she mainly hangs out with Eli, works and attends classes but she has achieved a measure of peace. At a support group meeting, James catches her eye but she is still quite surprised when he seeks he out at work the next day. Dahlia is taken off guard by how much she enjoys spending time with James, but her world is thrown into chaos after the video is posted online.
James is socially awkward and he is very literal during conversations. A computer geek, he is quite intelligent and lives a fairly quiet life with little social interaction outside of work. James immediately connects with Dahlia and although he is somewhat abrupt when he first asks her out, the two hit it off. He is angry on Dahlia’s behalf when the video surfaces and he does not hesitate to join her as she seeks out her own brand of justice against the men who assaulted her.
Dahlia’s attackers are now wealthy with successful careers but she and James gradually figure out how to take them down. They cleverly put James’s computer skills to work and they ruthlessly set their plans in motion. Dahlia feels no remorse for what she is doing but she does have reservations about their plan for one of the men. However, when she recalls his actions on the video, she easily overcomes her hesitation. When shocking new information comes to light about the finals group, Dahlia is unstoppable as she does everything within her power to get justice for herself and right this terrible wrong.
What Happened That Night is an absolutely riveting, emotional and suspense-laden mystery. Dahlia and James are absolutely delightful characters who are struggling to overcome the tragedies that have left powerful scars on them. Although some of the content is graphic, Sandra Block deftly handles these difficult topics and passages with a great deal of sensitivity. With an absolutely stunning and completely unexpected plot twist, the novel concludes on a uplifting and positive note. An absolutely brilliant read that I HIGHLY recommend to fans of the genre.