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Publisher's Summary

OPRAH’S BOOK CLUB PICK • A NEW YORK TIMES WRITER TO WATCH • 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 and "a soul-searching portrait of survival and hope" (Oprah Winfrey)

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. 

©2022 Leila Mottley (P)2022 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

A New York Times Writer to Watch This Summer  • Most Anticipated in The Millions, Oprah Daily, LitHub, Stylist, Nerdist, CrimeReads  • An Elle Best Book of Summer

“Leila Mottley’s commanding debut, inspired by the life events of one woman’s struggle for body and soul against crushing exploitation, is fierce and devastating, rendered with electrifying urgency by this colossal young talent.”—Ayana Mathis, author of The Twelve Tribes of Hattie 

“Leila Mottley is a name to pay attention to . . . Nightcrawling will make you desperate, it will make you awed, it will make you read anything that Mottley should ever choose to write.”CrimeReads 

“So compelling that one cannot put it down . . . Amazing . . . Unforgettable . . . Through Kiara, Mottley gives voice to countless Black women and girls who remain invisible, vulnerable, and dehumanized by a system that deems them disposable . . . We need Kiara’s story, but more importantly, we need young writers like Leila Mottley . . . This isn’t just a story about a survivor of sexual abuse or the myriad ways we ask Black girls to assume adult responsibilities. It is not a story of crashed dreams or grief or the impact of prison sentences, although all those things are here. It is, instead, a testimony to hope, resilience, and love.”Liber: A Feminist Review 

Interview: ‘Nightcrawling’ Gives Voice to a Real Life Tragedy—and a Debut Author’s Triumph

'A lot of what I wanted this book to do is show the expectations and the obligations that are put onto Black girls before we even have an understanding of what our options are.'
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  • Nightcrawling
  • 'A lot of what I wanted this book to do is show the expectations and the obligations that are put onto Black girls before we even have an understanding of what our options are.'

What listeners say about Nightcrawling

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An Absolute Must

Nightcrawling is riveting! The content and the delivery are awesome. Kiara Johnson is a modern day heroine. She carried what wasn’t hers, and that makes me sad. However, in all of that misery…she created and received love, and for that I was moved.

3 people found this helpful

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Beautiful

This book was very descriptive and you could feel the emotions through the words of the author and the voice of the narrator. It’s now one of my favorite books.
An amazing story that’s about a young women who is abandoned by her mother when she goes to prison. Her father went to prison years before her mother, and when he was released he was diagnosed with prostate cancer and it spread, he soon passed. Her older brother tried his best to take her in and not lose her to the system but soon after she is discovering that she’s more mature than her brother, also more responsible and serious. The rent goes up even higher, and she’s left with no choice but to prostitute herself. There will be many
Emotions you experience in this book and it’s well worth it!

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Wish there had been an ending with justice

I throughly enjoyed this book. It amplified a real issue in our country which is the violence against black and brown women and the lack of empathy for our pain.

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Metaphors - getcher Metaphors

It is impossible to ignore the author's age when thinking about this book. When I was in middle school (and obsessed with The Captain and Tennille) I started writing a novel about two talking muskrats who - you guessed it - fell in love. To think that Mottley is just 6-years older than me when I wrote that, is mind blowing. For a 19-year-old author this novel is impressive and it’s a major achievement.

This book is also depressing and, for me, not in any way enjoyable. It’s a fictional account based on a newsclip, which makes it even more depressing. And look, I am all about the dark books, but when I finished this book I was elated to not have to read anymore. .

It’s not a book I would have picked up if not for its Booker nomination. The thing is, though, I believe this book was nominated because of the author's age, and the subject matter. It is not a literary masterpiece. The writing is juvenile (not “Muskrat Love” juvenile, but still - Creative Writing 101.) Metaphor after metaphor. Dear God, free me from these metaphors. The editors should have done the author the favor of trimming those down.

Because of the nomination this book has to live up to a higher standard, and for me it falls short. That doesn’t take away from the absolute achievement of a writer of this age, but if we didn’t know her age, we’d all be scratching our heads at this book’s inclusion. I’m such a huge proponent of diversity in all things, but I think in this case the judges were trying to be a little too “woke.”

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It's the narration for me!

I am speechless, the performance and the story line kept me sitting on the edge of my seat. Everyone needs to read this book.

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Haunting, thoughtful, too real

Layers of emotions, thoughtful storytelling with the omissions about the abuse a loud component of the events in the story. Authors attention to detail and description is exquisite. The pool is the best character!

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Wow!

I loved the story and the way in which it was told. Mottley really makes you feel the characters emotions. Definitely recommend!

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My 1st comments.

Great listen. Will recommend to the book club I belong to ASAP. Wow 👌

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Voice of the Broken One

Powerful, prolific, prose of the broken ones. I'm broken & restored by her words.

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Sad but riveting

I couldn’t stop listening. Written so clearly and beautifully I felt as if I was there with Keyarah every step of the way.

1 person found this helpful