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“I have a feeling this book will be one that sticks with me for years to come. Nightcrawling is full of grit, emotion, and the strength of women from all walks of life. It explores many themes, including sexual exploitation, sex work, inner city life, and poverty. Leila Mottley (Oakland, CA) wrote this book when she was just 19, and it is both impressive and beautifully executed.”Brittany,
“At 17, Kiara has had more difficulties than most. Forced to drop out of high school to find work to avoid eviction, she finds getting a job next to impossible. She falls into sex work, which leads her to a sex trafficking ring run by the Oakland police. Mottley presents these circumstances without flinching or hand wringing. Her astute observations of Oakland and the people Kiara encounters reveal a deep understanding of human nature. There are no heroes in this story, Kiara survives by focusing on her chosen family and learning to disregard those who don't reciprocate her love.”Amy,
A Great Good Place for Books
“Oakland’s own Leila Mottley is the youngest person to be nominated for a Booker Prize. She began writing Nightcrawling, a novel loosely based on the OPD trafficking scandal, when she was attending Oakland School for the Arts, and it was published before she turned 20. The triumph of this story is the way that Mottley manages to present the brutal realities facing Kiara, a young girl who turns to sex work to try to hold her family together, without getting caught up in morality, pity, or sentimentality. This is a clear-eyed debut from a promising talent.”Sarah,
A Great Good Place for Books
NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER • AN OPRAH BOOK CLUB PICK • A dazzling novel about a young Black woman who walks the streets of Oakland and stumbles headlong into the failure of its justice system. This debut of a blazingly original voice “bursts at the seams of every page and swallows you whole” (Tommy Orange, author of There There).
A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR: The New Yorker, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, TIME, GOODREADS
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.