2022 Reviews · Audible · contemporary fiction

Audio Book Review: Nightcrawling by Leila Mottley

Title: Nightcrawling

Author: Leila Mottley

Published: June 7th 2022

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Pages: 288

Genres: Fiction, Contemporary

RRP: $29.99

Rating: 3 stars

When there is no choice, all you have left to do is walk.

Kiara Johnson does not know what it is to live as a normal seventeen-year-old. With her mother in a rehab facility and an older brother who devotes his time and money to a recording studio, she fends for herself – and for nine-year-old Trevor, whose own mother is prone to disappearing for days at a time. As the landlord of their apartment block threatens to raise their rent, Kiara finds herself walking the streets after dark, determined to survive in a world that refuses to protect her.

Then one night Kiara is picked up by two police officers, and the gruesome deal she is offered in exchange for her freedom lands her at the centre of a media storm. If she agrees to testify in a grand jury trial, she could help expose the sickening corruption of a police department. But honesty comes at a price – one that could leave her family vulnerable to their retaliation, and endanger everyone she loves.

Nightcrawling is an unforgettable novel about young people navigating the darkest corners of an adult world, told with a humanity that is at once agonising and utterly mesmerising.


Nightcrawling is a debut novel written by Youth Poet Leila Mottley. This Oakland born and raised resident penned Nightcrawling when she was just seventeen-years-old. Now sitting on the Booker Prize longlist, Nightcrawling is a book that has reached the masses of the literary world. Cutting, upsetting and urgent, Nightcrawling is a social commentary style piece of fiction.

A story of justice, restrictions, free will, poverty and inequality, Nightcrawling is the first novel by Leila Mottley. With questions of choice and freedom gravitating around this novel, Nightcrawling provides an insight into the life of a seventeen-year-old girl who must take responsibility for issues that are beyond her age of capability. With her mother in rehab, her older brother trying to forge a career and her neighbour’s young boy to care for, Kiara does all she can to survive in a cruel world. A developing problem arises when Kiara’s landlord raises his rent roll. As a result Kiara must do all she can to survive, which means walking the dangerous streets of her home town in search of a quick buck. When Kiara becomes involved with two local police officers, her life explodes. Kiara’s freedom is restricted thanks to a huge media circus surrounding her experience with these corrupt officers. It lands Kiara straight into a grand jury situation, where she must testify against these cruel and desperate men. But Kiara testimony won’t save her loved ones, especially when someone is determined to silence her. Will Kiara survive this storm?

Nightcrawling is a profound debut written by an ambitious young woman. At just seventeen-years-old Leila Mottley penned her first novel, which takes a seething and poetic approach to a real-life case involving corrupt police officers in the area of Oakland in 2016. I can’t fault or criticise the author’s intent in taking on a story of this nature. It is a difficult and brave feat for such a young writer.

I opted to listen to Nightcrawling on audio, via the platform Audible which was narrated by Joniece Abott-Pratt. I felt that the narration seemed authentic and believable. However, I really felt the heavy weight of the immature voice of Kiara, the lead. The intensity of this youth’s voice seemed to impact my overall impression of Nightcrawling. I have to admit to struggling with the young voice and the phrasing this teenage girl adopts. It was also hard to completely connect to Kiara. I issue a trigger warning for those who struggle with issues of sexual abuse, trafficking, injury, poverty, malnourishment, neglect and police brutality. This is a tough one to swallow, but it is a vital story to push out there into the hands of society.

Nightcrawling has already garnered plenty of international attention thanks to a Booker Prize nomination and I’m sure it will continue to resonate with readers worldwide. Personally, it was a very hard read for me to cover via a review but I hope those interested will value all this story has to offer.

Nightcrawling by Leila Mottley was published on 7th June 2022 by Bloomsbury. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

To learn more about the author of Nightcrawling, Leila Mottley, visit here.

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