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Nightcrawling: A novel by Leila Mottley
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Nightcrawling: A novel (edition 2022)

by Leila Mottley (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
15710147,394 (4.27)12
A dazzling novel about a young Black woman who walks the streets of Oakland and stumbles headlong into the failure of its justice system--the debut of a blazingly original voice that "bursts at the seams of every page and swallows you whole" (Tommy Orange, best-selling author of There There) Kiara and her brother, Marcus, are scraping by in an East Oakland apartment complex optimistically called the Regal-Hi. Both have dropped out of high school, their family fractured by death and prison. But while Marcus clings to his dream of rap stardom, Kiara hunts for work to pay their rent--which has more than doubled--and to keep the nine-year-old boy next door, abandoned by his mother, safe and fed.   One night, what begins as a drunken misunderstanding with a stranger turns into the job Kiara never imagined wanting but now desperately needs: nightcrawling. Her world breaks open even further when her name surfaces in an investigation that exposes her as a key witness in a massive scandal within the Oakland Police Department.   Rich with raw beauty, electrifying intensity, and piercing vulnerability, Nightcrawling marks the stunning arrival of a voice unlike any we have heard before. … (more)
Member:linda.a.
Title:Nightcrawling: A novel
Authors:Leila Mottley (Author)
Info:Knopf (2022), 288 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:None

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Nightcrawling by Leila Mottley

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» See also 12 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
This is truly one of the best books I have ever read in my life. I don't want to say anything about it, I just want everyone to read this and have their heart run through a blender like mine was. ( )
  sublunarie | Aug 9, 2022 |
Nightcrawling is a depressing book. It’s a story that has to be told, though. And if you take the time to read the Author’s Note after the novel’s conclusion, you’ll find out that it is based on fact. Apparently the Oakland, California, police department is as lacking in morals in reality as it is in fiction. Aside from the shocking story line, Mottley is a gifted writer, and to think that she started her novel while still in high school is almost unbelievable. My guess is we’ll be reading masterpieces by Mottley for many years to come. ( )
  DanDiercks | Jul 27, 2022 |
This is a sadly realistic urban novel of Oakland, where 17 year old Kiara and her brother Marcus try to survive without parents or jobs. Kiara also takes charge of the nine year old next door neighbor's son when his mother disappears. Feeling hopeless, Kiara is coerced into having sex with an Oakland police office who threatens to arrest her for prostitution, and then he serves her around to all of his friends. When a reform-minded female officer witnesses Kiara's circumstances, she drops a dime and gets Kiara a lawyer who opens a case against the department. Kiara's only salvation is Ale, a skater girl who yearns to help her, but this will require Kiara to trust her and to admit her need for Ale's support. It's a heartbreaking story, based on true events, with only glimmers of hope. ( )
  froxgirl | Jul 13, 2022 |
As soon as I read the publisher’s synopsis, I realised that this was likely to be a story I’d find disturbing. However, even though I was familiar with the events which had inspired the author to write her debut novel, I hadn’t imagined how quickly and completely I’d feel immersed in Kiara’s world and the challenges she faced on a daily basis. By the end of the first chapter, I was not only able to ‘hear’ her voice very clearly but knew that the immediately-convincing authenticity of her first-person narrative would hold me in thrall, making it difficult to put her story to one side, no matter how harrowing I was finding it to read about her experiences. I think this is a reflection of Leila Mottley’s exquisite use of language to bring Kiara, as well as each of her other characters, so vividly to life. Her ‘author’s note’ (featured at the end of the novel but perhaps worth reading first) captures the essence of what informed her writing, but it’s how she uses the passion which motivated her to write this story which makes it such a compelling and unforgettable read. She appears to have an innate ability to convert her highly perceptive observations of people, and what motivates their behaviour, into credible interactions between her characters.
Her capacity for empathy radiates through her prose, as does her determination to shine a light on racism, totally careless abuse of power, the grinding effects of poverty, of social inequity and apparent political indifference to those who are marginalised in societies where the gap between rich and poor, the ‘haves and the have nots’, has been growing wider recently rather than showing any signs of narrowing. Through Kiara’s eyes she enables her readers to examine the factors which inform the choices this young woman feels compelled to make as she attempts to negotiate a world where all the odds are stacked against her and she faces the ever-present threat of being made homeless because she cannot pay the rent. Sexual exploitation of vulnerable people always feels shocking but that sense of shock is compounded when it’s perpetrated by police officers who use the threat of exposure and prosecution, to control their victims. The author very effectively captured how, in the justice system as well as in the ‘court of public opinion’, the odds are all too often stacked against victims of sexual abuse.
Initially I thought that the bright pink dust jacket seemed totally inappropriate for such a dark and disturbing story. However, one of the storylines which emerges (no spoilers, but it does involve finding expression and joy in using colour!) made me realise that the choice was perfect because, in spite of all the horrors and privations she was experiencing in her young life, Kiara was able to retain her capacity for seeing beauty and for experiencing love and joy. I felt in awe of her resilience and her determination to protect those she loved, whilst simultaneously feeling a sense of rage that her life, through no fault of her own, was such a relentless struggle.
With thanks to the publisher and Readers First for a copy of this unforgettable story. ( )
  linda.a. | Jul 2, 2022 |
Nightcrawling is a strong debut novel from Leila Mottley. It’s a raw, intense and unflinching portrayal of a part of Oakland, California not seen on the TV or spoken about. The characters are poor, with limited options to earn money or even earn respect from those who should be protecting them.

Kiara is seventeen and lives with her brother in the Regal-Hi apartment building, where rents have just risen beyond the capacity of most of the tenants. Her mother is in jail, and Kiara has taken on responsibility for Trevor, whose own mother is high most of the time and unable to care for him. Kiara occasionally gets a few shifts at a liquor store and Marcus has decided to stop working to chase his dream as a rapper. Money is desperately short, as is food. Her friends try to help her out but it’s not enough. Kiara turns to soliciting on the street to make money and it’s not long before things take a darker turn. Some police take advantage of her, then ‘request’ her presence at their parties which are degrading and sickening. When their corruption is discovered within the police force, Kiara is encouraged to testify against them and then hopefully sue. It’s one way of making some money, but at what cost? Kiara will find out who has and hasn’t got her back.

This story is gritty and quite depressing, because it can be true (the story is based on a real-life scandal) and Kiara can’t catch a break. Just when she thinks she has something under control, another obstacle appears. The writing is spectacularly powerful and detailed, which I think adds to the overall tone of the bleak novel. Mottley isn’t afraid to pull out all the stops and show just how brutal things can be for people like Kiara and Trevor. I did have to stop reading at times just for a break from the hopelessness of the setting, but I do admire Mottley for not toning it down. The characters are richly detailed, from Kiara to Trevor and the hopeless Marcus (her brother). Even minor characters like Kiara’s parents are memorable, although sometimes for all the wrong reasons.

While the story is not always easy to read, the writing is strong and determined, painting an evocative picture in giving these forgotten characters a voice.

Thank you to Bloomsbury for the copy of this book. My review is honest.

http://samstillreading.wordpress.com ( )
1 vote birdsam0610 | Jun 18, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 9 (next | show all)
The expressive, poetic phrases in this novel don’t obfuscate the dark and revolting scenes, so you’ll need to be in the right mood for this one.
 
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A dazzling novel about a young Black woman who walks the streets of Oakland and stumbles headlong into the failure of its justice system--the debut of a blazingly original voice that "bursts at the seams of every page and swallows you whole" (Tommy Orange, best-selling author of There There) Kiara and her brother, Marcus, are scraping by in an East Oakland apartment complex optimistically called the Regal-Hi. Both have dropped out of high school, their family fractured by death and prison. But while Marcus clings to his dream of rap stardom, Kiara hunts for work to pay their rent--which has more than doubled--and to keep the nine-year-old boy next door, abandoned by his mother, safe and fed.   One night, what begins as a drunken misunderstanding with a stranger turns into the job Kiara never imagined wanting but now desperately needs: nightcrawling. Her world breaks open even further when her name surfaces in an investigation that exposes her as a key witness in a massive scandal within the Oakland Police Department.   Rich with raw beauty, electrifying intensity, and piercing vulnerability, Nightcrawling marks the stunning arrival of a voice unlike any we have heard before. 

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