What Night Brings

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

The ways of God and man seemed stacked against abused children, whose prayers are seldom answered and to whom adults appear not only hypocritical but inexplicable. Nonetheless eleven-year-old Marci’s hopes never die. Her two wishes go round and round in her head each night: that her father will leave, and that God will change her into a boy. Both seem unlikely, but who knows? The nuns say God can perform miracles.

Meanwhile, Marci and her sister Corin find other ways to survive. Most relatives in their large extended family are loving and supportive, even if they don’t know what to do about their father Eddie’s violence. The girls’ mother is more approachable, but blind to her husband’s faults. In playing with neighborhood friends, Marci and Corin get some glimpses of how varied family and religious values can be.

But the domestic violence escalates, and the gun Eddie has used as a subtle threat finally comes into play. In a suspenseful escape, Marci and Corin make their way to the bus station, unnoticed by the police and ambulance cars that burst into the house. The two girls manage to travel all the way from California to Gallup, New Mexico, where Grandma Flor lives. She promises to keep them safe from their father. A new life begins for Marci.

What Night Brings is a sensitive almost-coming-of-age novel with several differences. Its author, Carla Trujillo, has previously edited anthologies of Chicana and lesbian literature, and both identities play a part in the narrative. Spanish words and sentences dot the narrative—sometimes the non-Spanish reader has to figure out their meanings from context. Yet the book’s appeal goes far beyond these two groups. Fine prose and a poignant story combine to make this book an absorbing read for almost anyone.