June is a month so very nice, I insisted on doing my "Editor’s Select" twice! Soon after gulping down
Cult Classic, I finally got the audio for one of the year’s most impressive debuts—and it was way too good not to squeeze it in at the last minute.
Nightcrawling is an ambitious, lyrical, heart-shattering debut that’s almost impossible to believe was written by a teenager—but then again, I can’t imagine anyone else taking the reins of this story with such authenticity and fire. Leila Mottley, the former Youth Poet Laureate of Oakland, centers her first novel on her beloved hometown and a terrible injustice that happened there: the story of a young Black girl who literally stumbles onto sex work as a way to avoid eviction, and ends up sexually abused and exploited by a network of cops. Don’t let the dark subject matter turn you off. Mottley’s main character, Kiara, voiced by the uber-talented Joniece Abbott-Pratt, suffuses the story with piercing insights on race, gender, class, and family, not to mention exquisite moments of radiance, beauty, and hope. Not much older than Kiara herself, Mottley is a major new voice in fiction, and I predict we’re going to want to hear her every word.