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Book Review: “Nightcrawling” by Leila Motley

Review by Miriam Stone

This is the debut book of Leila Motley who shines a light on the injustices of poverty, racism, sexism and the policing of our streets. It is written by a teenager about teenagers and although it is painful, it has an urgency that won’t allow you to stop reading.

In East Oakland, Kiara, a Black high school drop-out, is barely scraping by. Her mother is in jail, her dad is gone, her older brother is consumed with pursuing a non-existent rapping career, and she’s also taken an abandoned nine-year-old boy under her wing. During a night out on the town, she unknowingly steps into a world of prostitution—nightcrawling—and is forced into a far more sinister and abusive scheme by the very people who could arrest her for it. There is desperation in Kiara’s motivations and it’s her desire to protect the people she loves that catapults this story and makes it one of the most notable debuts of the year. 

This is an Oprah Book Club pick for 2022.

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