A truly riveting story of a Russian teen, Ilya, from a poor family who wants nothing more than to go to America. He idolizes his older brother, Vladimir, despite his troublemaking and eventual drug addiction. Ilya continues on the straight-and-narrow and eventually makes it to a family in Texas. But back in Russia, his brother is imprisoned for the murders of three local women. Ilya is determined to exonerate Vladimir while finding that, despite the excesses of America, drugs are just as devastating as in Russia.
The characters here are vivid, as are the locales that shape them. I loved the juxtaposition of the two cities, both illuminated nightly by the refineries that are the lifeblood--and in many ways, the undoing--of both locations. Dark and gritty, but highly recommended.
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A gripping and deftly plotted narrative of family and belonging, Lights All Night Long is a dazzling debut novel from an acclaimed young writer
“Lights All Night Long is utterly brilliant and completely captivating. . . . One of the most propulsive, un-put-downable literary novels I’ve read in ages.”–Anthony Marra, author of A Constellation of Vital Phenomena
Fifteen-year-old Ilya arrives in Louisiana from his native Russia for what should be the adventure of his life: a year in America as an exchange student. The abundance of his new world–the Super Walmarts and heated pools and enormous televisions–is as hard to fathom as the relentless cheerfulness of his host parents. And Sadie, their beautiful and enigmatic daughter, has miraculously taken an interest in him.
But all is not right in Ilya’s world: he’s consumed by the fate of his older brother Vladimir, the magnetic rebel to Ilya’s dutiful wunderkind, back in their tiny Russian hometown. The two have always been close, spending their days dreaming of escaping to America. But when Ilya was tapped for the exchange, Vladimir disappeared into their town’s seedy, drug-plagued underworld. Just before Ilya left, the murders of three young women rocked the town’s usual calm, and Vladimir found himself in prison.
With the help of Sadie, who has secrets of her own, Ilya embarks on a mission to prove Vladimir’s innocence. Piecing together the timeline of the murders and Vladimir’s descent into addiction, Ilya discovers the radical lengths to which Vladimir has gone to protect him–a truth he could only have learned by leaving him behind.
A rich tale of belonging and the pull of homes both native and adopted, Lights All Night Long is a spellbinding story of the fierce bond between brothers determined to find a way back to each other.