Book Review: Day for Night by Frederick Reiken

Day for Night book popped onto my radar following Boswell and Book's glowing review a few months ago. At first glance, it didn't sound like something I'd necessarily pick up: a family vacationing in Florida meets a boat guide who takes them to swim with manatees. I have a weird bias against Florida-based novels, but I am ever-so-glad that I got over it for this stunning novel.

Reiken's novel opens with this family, as mentioned, but the focus quickly shifts to their boat guide... who loves a girl who has a brother who falls in love with a woman who has a co-worker... you get the idea. I really can't sum up too much more of the plot without giving away the subtle genius of Reiken's novel (his third), but hopefully this is enough to have you hooked.

In Day for Night, we are never given the same perspective twice - each chapter focuses on a different character in a carefully woven net of stories. Such an impressively diverse list of characters and perspectives seems guaranteed to lead to confusion and ultimately frustration, but Reiken carries it off flawlessly. Each character's time in the spotlight serves to introduce or revisit characters that narrate or have narrated in other chapters, and in the end, we are left with a finely enmeshed cast of characters that are all related and yet not, observed by others and yet explored in their own words. Each character is given his or her due time, and then their chapter - both literally and figuratively - is at an end.

In finishing the novel, it is clear that this choice of construct is no mere happenstance - Reiken's method of relaying his story only serves to drive the story further home. Each ending is a beginning, and each beginning an end. Those characters that present themselves in the first person are also explored as they are observed by others, marking a stark contrast between how we see ourselves and how others perceive us.

Bottom line: Any review can only begin to touch on the beauty of Reiken's novel. What he has crafted here is a brilliantly constructed collection of stories that are all carefully related to the others, bringing us a novel that borders on short story collection and story collection that borders on novel. With a perfectly presented and expansive cast of characters, excellent writing and a gripping storyline, Reiken's stor(y/ies) come(s) to life, making this a novel that will linger in the minds of readers for days to come.


Details: Reagan Arthur Books, an imprint of Little, Brown. On sale April 26, 2010. Hardcover.

Disclosure: Thanks to Marlena Bittner at Reagan Arthur Books for the review copy.

Note: This book qualifies for the Reagan Arthur Books Challenge.


  1. Oh I can't wait to read this one. Fantastic review!

  2. A very distinctive approach. Thank you for this review!

    Bill ;-)

    Hope you'll check out my book giveaway:

  3. What a great review of this challenging, compelling book! I'm with you in hoping it gets discovered by more readers.

  4. I picked up at the library out of the blue in the school holidays. Something I wouldn't normally read. I found it amazing and I really couldn't put it down. I remember getting out of bed at 2am to start drawing mindemaps of how all the characters are connected. Reiken writes it in such a logical yet complex manner. I wasted lots of paper on that.

    When school started, I found out that my area of study for year 11 is Connections and we had to find a text ourselves. It's perfect.

    This really is a great review!


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