“His name is Luke. But nobody knows that. He was an iconic musician before he gave up music. But nobody knows that either. They also don’t know he’s twenty-seven, that he used to have an infectious laugh, and that he’s way too young to be widowed. They certainly don’t know the rest of his tragic story. All they know is that he comes into their café at the same time every morning and stares at the same chair at the same table. They know he’s strange. They know he interrupts their breakfast with a cold blast of air as he hovers in the doorway, mustering the courage to confront a piece of furniture.
No one asks why. No one cares. He’s fine with that. He’s done with life. This isn’t even his story anymore. It’s actually Callie’s, the young writer who sat in his chair one day.” ~Summary from Goodreads
“No one can do life completely alone. We’re not supposed to.”
Night Shifts Black is a story about depression and loss and self loathing and healing. I first read this a few years ago and it changed my life. Somehow it came to me at the most important time, a time when I needed a story exactly like this to help me through my own depression.
I’ve read plenty of stories that touch on mental illness, but never have I read anything that portrays it in such a raw and relatable way. And I’ve definitely never read a story that handles the process of escaping and healing from depression in such a healthy way. There’s no magical instant fix, no cure-all that makes it all go away in a single moment. There’s a lot of pain, a lot of backslides back into darkness, and a lot of agony. At times it’s almost hard to read because of how real it is, how much it felt like the characters were speaking directly to me and my own pain, but it’s worth it in the end.
I felt like I was not just witnessing the characters going through their own problems; I felt like their struggles forced me to confront my own. And each time I’ve reread this book I’ve always come away from it feeling lighter and a bit better. I don’t know how Alyson Santos did it, but she wove some magic into these words.
“This is what words do. So often they tear apart, but they can also form miracles.”
Outside of the major themes of depression and loss, the characters themselves are just amazing. I absolutely adore them. Which is, of course, important for a story meant to make you truly feel for the characters.
Callie, especially, is wonderful. She’s a beautifully insightful narrator, and the way her relationship with Luke develops and then evolves is organic and perfect.
Luke is so complex I can’t even begin to explain without giving away important story elements. The plot revolves so tightly around him that every little thing he goes through felt so personal, as if it were happening to someone close to me.
Casey, Luke’s best friend, is the best part of the story, in my opinion. He’s a ray of beautiful sunshine, but he’s hurting as well. And that’s what really gets me the most whenever I read this story. The strongest, brightest smiling person in the story is not without his own pain and suffering. It’s just so real and true.
Anyone who’s has ever suffered from depression, or knows someone who has or is, or anyone who’s suffered a loss, really just everyone in the world, needs to read this. It never fails to change me with each reread. I’m so so grateful that this book exists.
I’ll be starting my reread of the second book in this series, Tracing Holland, this coming week. I can’t wait to finally be able to review that as well.
*For anyone who is suffering from depression and/or thoughts of self harm or suicide, please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK(8255) You’re not alone ❤️*