Told in searingly beautiful style, this exceptional debut blazes with truths about social, sexual and racial injustices through the agonising experiences of a Black American teenager.
Sparked by a real-life police abuse scandal in Oakland, California, Leila Mottley’s intensely affecting Nightcrawling debut, written when she was just seventeen, burns with brutal truths and a raw beauty that lays bare an astounding spirit of love and survival.
Though not quite 18, Kiara has long had to play an adult role in life. Her former Black Panther father is dead, as is her little sister. Her mama is in a halfway house “prison without the bars”, while her older brother clings to a dream of making it in rap music. So, it’s fallen to Kiara to take responsibility for paying rent and putting food on the table. What’s more, she also cares for Trevor, a ten-year-old child whose mother keeps going AWOL. Trapped in poverty, and unable to get a job, Kiara is forced to nightcrawl. “It’s just a body,” she tells herself.
After being picked up by a couple of cops, Kiara is forced to have sex with them and their colleagues. Though she had no choice, she wishes she’d never given them her number - “they only want me to show themselves they can have me…These are the men who load their guns and point them with a grin, and find a girl in an alley and decide she is theirs”. Later, when one of the cops is found dead, Kiara finds herself at the heart of an investigation into police corruption and sexual exploitation, but being named as a key witness puts everything and everyone she knows into danger.
As the case exposes the adultification of Black girls and the corrupt core of an unjust system, Kiara keeps on caring for Trevor, keeps on trying to help her brother, keeps on living and loving.
A searing debut novel inspired by a true story from the streets of Oakland, California, announcing the arrival of a blazing, young talent.
When there is no choice, all you have left to do is walk. Kiara Johnson does not know what it is to live as a normal seventeen-year-old. With her mother in a rehab facility and an older brother who devotes his time and money to a recording studio, she fends for herself - and for nine-year-old Trevor, whose own mother is prone to disappearing for days at a time. As the landlord of their apartment block threatens to raise their rent, Kiara finds herself walking the streets after dark, determined to survive in a world that refuses to protect her. Then one night Kiara is picked up by Officers 601 and 190, and the gruesome deal she is offered in exchange for her freedom lands her at the centre of a media storm. If she agrees to testify in a grand jury trial, she could help expose the sickening corruption of a police department. But honesty comes at a price - one that could leave her family vulnerable to their retaliation, and endanger everyone she loves. Nightcrawling is an unforgettable novel about young people navigating the darkest corners of an adult world, told with a humanity that is at once agonising and utterly mesmerising.
|Publication date:||7th June 2022|
|Publisher:||Bloomsbury Publishing PLC|
|Primary Genre||Modern and Contemporary Fiction|
Closing date: 10/07/2022
A truly beautiful and powerful book -- Ruth Ozeki, author of THE BOOK OF FORM AND EMPTINESS
'Leila Mottley's writing erupts and flows like lava . . . Nightcrawling bursts at the seams of every page and swallows you whole' TOMMY ORANGE, finalist for the Pulitzer Prize