Author: Anne Pfeffer
Publisher: Bold Print Press
Released: 19th May 2012
Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Leaving his best friend Michael alone at the birthday party of his crush Emily to go and talk to her, Ryan has no idea what's about to happen. When he gets home he finds out that Michael never made it that far - instead he died in a car accident. Ryan is haunted with guilt, made worse by the fact that Michael wanted to tell him something just before he walked away. The secret is more shocking than he could have imagined and Ryan determines to do the right thing by Michael and take on the responsibility that came with it.
On the face of it, this book looks like it's just about Ryan's attempt to get Emily to fall as in love with him as he is with her. This perception was certainly stronger when the book was titled Loving Emily. But like so many other readers, I find the new title so much more apt, because this book is about far more than just their relationship. It's about love, loss, building new relationships with people, guilt, surviving and moving on. It takes a complex issue and deals with it exceptionally well, and this made it a very compelling read.
Ryan is surprisingly mature for a sixteen year old boy, even before he finds out what Michael got himself into. I really appreciated reading from his perspective. He comes from a wealthy background, but he's much more down-to-earth than you might expect, and his character goes through a lot of growth. He feels guilty about his best friend's death even though it wasn't his fault, and this helps drive his actions. But apart from that, he's a genuinely good guy who wants to help out and doesn't like shirking responsibility; he doesn't seem to mind taking on something that had nothing to do with him in the first place and he becomes a really admirable character. His attempts to reconnect with his parents despite their obliviousness and continual absence was moving. Emily was a likeable character and, although not as strong as Ryan, I could still see where she was coming from.
Despite a possibly unremarkable appearance, Any Other Night, once you open it, reveals itself to be a complex, emotional story that refuses to let go. It's always wonderful being unexpectedly surprised like that, and I'm definitely glad I finally got the opportunity to read it. I look forward to seeing what else Anne Pfeffer comes up with.