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Wild, Margaret. One night.

WILD, Margaret. One night. Random House, Knopf. 236p. c2003. 0-375-82920-2. $15.95. JS

Like the author's Jinx (reviewed in paperback in this issue of KLIATT), One Night is a story told in short poems, from the point of view of several characters. It's quite amazing how a carefully crafted poem is able to reveal character so clearly on two levels of understanding: intellectual and emotional. One night two people meet at a wild party and then go their separate ways, but the night changes both their lives forever. Gabe is a beautiful young man, obsessed with hooking up with girls, but uninterested in commitments. Helen is a girl with a beautiful soul and a damaged face. When she realizes she is pregnant with Gabe's baby from the casual sexual encounter that one night, she decides to keep the baby and escape the misery of her parents' household. Both characters are eventually transformed by this one night and its aftermath.

Margaret Wild is able to tell about teenagers and families with honesty. She doesn't pull back from the weaknesses and mistakes. But she also has compassion for these characters she has created, even the flighty mother, the rigid father, the drunken boy, the drug-addicted daughter who are peripheral to the story. As we might expect in a YA novel, Gabe and Helen mature by the end of the story, sharing a love for their son if not for each other. Helen's parents change in ways that help her start to trust them. Al, the alcoholic, pulls back from the edge of self-destruction, sobered by a near tragedy of his own making.

This book, set in Australia, was first published there; this shouldn't be any barrier to readers from other countries. It's a strong, gripping story throughout, especially the birth poems when Helen is in labor, alone in the hospital. Claire Rosser, KLIATT
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Author:Rosser, Claire
Article Type:Book Review
Date:May 1, 2004
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