Last Night at the Circle Cinema is a coming-of-age novel by Emily Franklin that follows the last night that three high school seniors have together before they graduate. Olivia, Bertucci, and Codman are in a friendship “triangle” that has complications as they each navigate their aspirations, the dynamics of their relationships, and loss. The mastermind, Bertucci, strategically plans the night with relics of their past that send each friend down memory lane. The truths of the past are uncovered, despite how much they each try to bury them. The Circle Cinema itself is a representation of their friendship in that it was previously new and full of excitement but is now full of intrigue and disrepair.
This novel’s characters reminded me of the innocence of childhood friendships. The trio begins their friendship with ease and excitement. However, as we mature and learn more about our friends, we realize that people, including ourselves, are complex and beautiful. With each interaction, we get glimpses of the people around us, but we may never know the battles they fight alone. Last Night at the Circle Cinema is an engaging book that reveals these sentiments and how people can still hide the darkest part of themselves, despite how vulnerable we become. Franklin's use of flashbacks fills in crucial events from their past that seamlessly flow within the chapters. The narrative technique, where each chapter is from the perspective of a different character, highlights how the same experience can yield different interpretations. This technique is well executed and creates a rich, multidimensional story.