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Lights All Night Long: A Novel by Lydia…

Lights All Night Long: A Novel (original 2019; edition 2019)

by Lydia Fitzpatrick (Author)

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604294,535 (4)2
Title:Lights All Night Long: A Novel
Authors:Lydia Fitzpatrick (Author)
Info:Penguin Press (2019), 352 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Signed, First Edition, Book Passage Book Club

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Lights All Night Long by Lydia Fitzpatrick (2019)



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Thanks to Netgalley for the arc of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This was a story about two Russian brothers- one of time the smart and motivated one who earns a trip to America to be an exchange student. The other brother falls into drugs and gets himself into trouble.

This story was just okay for me. I couldn’t find myself caring what happened to the characters. It felt like maybe there were a bit too many characters and none really well developed. Same with all the different stories. This made the story slow for me since I had no interest in the side stories.

Overall this had some good writing but not enough to keep me interested. ( )
  jill1121 | Jun 1, 2019 |
Lights All Night Long begins with fifteen-year-old Ilya’s arrival in America. He is oddly detached, walking past his host family’s welcoming sign twice before stopping. He pretends he does not understand them and doesn’t speak English leaving them puzzled why he was chosen to participate in this exchange sponsored by the refinery companies in his hometown and theirs. The next morning, he apologizes and explains that he is struggling because his brother recently died.

This is not true. In fact, his brother has just confessed to murdering three women and is awaiting trial and sentencing in prison. It seems so appropriate that Ilya’s hometown was once part of the Gulag. The story goes back and forth from the past in Russia and the present in Louisiana. One thing unites both cities, the refineries and their bright lights that illuminate the sky all through the night, the lights all night long.

In the past, we see how close and how different the brothers are. Vladimir is older and protective of Ilya. Ilya is studious and bright, Vladimir struggles with school, reading with difficulty. Vladimir skips school, takes drugs, and runs away from home, squatting in an empty building. Ilya is recommended for an exchange program while everyone has given up, more or less, on Vladimir.

Except Ilya, who is determined to prove his brother’s innocence even from Louisiana. He enlists his exchange family “sister” Sadie in his research, hoping to find an American missionary who suddenly returned to America, perhaps a witness, perhaps the killer. Sadie has secrets of her own and the two are drawn together by their shared difficulties

Lights All Night Long is brilliant on many levels. It works as a coming-of-age story as Ilya learns more about the brother he loves so much and as he explores his first real love. It works, too, as a story of someone new to America, the initial discomfort and confusion of a new country but it avoids making that into a joke. It also works as a mystery, the slow, almost tortuous work of looking for a rather common needle in the American haystack.

Perhaps what I liked best about the story is how well-developed even the minor characters were. Take the host parents Cam and Jamie. They are on the surface pretty stereotypical Southerners, full of boosterism and religious devotion. Their lives center on their church. Yet, when push comes to shove for Ilya and for Sadie, we see so much strength and flexibility. Jamie, in particular, comes through as an amazing woman. So, too, Ilya’s family and his teacher. There are no flat characters. They inhabit the story so fully I can imagine them living lives outside this story.

This is a story overflowing with love, not just Ilya’s for his brother, but his mother and grandmother’s love. Ilya and Sadie and how thye come to love each other through their fears and secrets. Cam and Jamie’s love and how it grows and forgives. Even the love the communities have for their people. This is a story of people with good hearts who struggle with demons as best they can. I really loved it.

I received an e-galley of Lights All Night Long from the publisher through NetGalley.


https://tonstantweaderreviews.wordpress.com/2019/04/26/9780525558736/ ( )
  Tonstant.Weader | Apr 26, 2019 |
Lights All Night Long by Lydia Fitzpatrick is a highly recommended heartbreaking coming-of-age novel.

This is the story of two Russian brothers, Ilya and Vladimir, who take different paths. The novel opens with fifteen-year-old exchange student Ilya arriving in Effie, Louisiana, from Berlozhniki, a small village in Russia on the edge of the Arctic Circle. This should be an exciting time, a dream come true, but as he left Russia, he left his older brother Vladimir behind - and Vladimir has just been thrown into jail and charged with the murder of three young girls. Ilya knows Vladimir is innocent, but how can he prove it while living in America?

The story alternates between the Ilya's past in Russia, leading up to the present day, and his time in America, where he finds an ally and help from his host family's daughter, Sadie. The two brothers were always close, but Ilya has always been the studious one, excelling in learning English. As Ilya studied and prepared for the exam that would allow him to be an exchange student in America, Vladimir descended further into drinking and the local drug culture. Now Ilya and Sadie find a way to help Vladimir from afar.

The alternating chapters serve to contrast the poverty in Russia and the abundance in America, but also served to show, as Ilya learns more, some of the similarities in both countries and cultures. The novel does start out slow and it takes time to get a better feel for Ilya and establish some sense of connection to the characters. The connection with Ilya does improve as the novel progresses and his character becomes better developed, but the slow start to the narrative does serve to impede any immediate connection. Sadie, the oldest daughter of the host family, is developed as a character, but the rest of the family are never really developed beyond caricatures. Mostly, this is a tale of two brothers, their bond, and the very different lives the two live.

This is a well-written, compassionate, compelling account of Ilya's life and family and an impressive debut novel. The mystery, solving the murders, does reach a satisfying conclusion which is aptly tied into the plot. The focus is really on the relationship between the brothers and the lengths you will go to help those you love.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Penguin Random House.
http://www.shetreadssoftly.com/2019/04/lights-all-night-long.html ( )
  SheTreadsSoftly | Apr 3, 2019 |
'Lights All Night Long' offers an interesting outsider perspective. Ilya, a Russian exchange student, arrives in Louisiana anxious about his brother's recent arrest for murder. He's unwilling to confide in his cheerful host family, and must dwell on his doubts alone, until he makes an unexpected ally in the family's teenage daughter.

Alternating between Ilya's childhood in Russia and his experiences in the United States, Ilya struggles to reconcile the memory of his brother with the horrible murders that haunted his home. Across a continent and an ocean he struggles to find evidence to redeem his brother, and himself, too.

Fitzpatrick expertly holds onto the tension of the story, seamlessly tying together the different timelines and never loosens her emotional grip on the reader. ( )
  ManWithAnAgenda | Mar 31, 2019 |
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Publisher Annotation: A rich tale of belonging and the pull of homes both native and adopted, Lights All Night Long is a spellbinding story of the fierce bond between brothers determined to find a way back to each other. 352pp., 75K

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