The Night Always Comes

Harper. Apr. 2021. 224p. ISBN 9780063035089. $26.99. F
Set in contemporary Portland, OR, this latest by Vlautin (Don’t Skip Out on Me) is filled with darkness. Lynette has scrimped for three years to save enough money for the down payment on the house she shares with her mentally impaired older brother and her hard-drinking, chain-smoking mother. Now, just when Lynette’s plan is about to pay off, her mother tosses in a huge monkey wrench, forcing Lynette into the night and a series of life-threatening situations with the sketchiest characters imaginable. Her overnight odyssey brings her face-to-face not only with scummy people but also with a past not overfilled with happiness. This fairly short novel is structured in one continuous 48-hour flow, which makes it seem even shorter. The story resonates, with characters we come to feel we know and dialog that is so natural we hear it, not just read it. Lynette may be, as her mother says, “just born to fail.” But in spite of everything that has gone wrong for her, in the end she is not defeated. Though alone in the world by story’s end, she departs home without bitterness, heading east toward the rising sun.
VERDICT This is literary art that will keep readers in their seats until the last page.
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