Review: The Night Always Comes by Willy Vlaudin

Title: The Night Always Comes by Willy Vlaudin
Publisher: Harper
Genre: Contemporary, Fiction
Length: 224 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss


Award-winning author Willy Vlautin explores the impact of trickle-down greed and opportunism of gentrification on ordinary lives in this scorching novel that captures the plight of a young woman pushed to the edge as she fights to secure a stable future for herself and her family.

Barely thirty, Lynette is exhausted. Saddled with bad credit and juggling multiple jobs, some illegally, she’s been diligently working to buy the house she lives in with her mother and developmentally disabled brother Kenny. Portland’s housing prices have nearly quadrupled in fifteen years, and the owner is giving them a good deal. Lynette knows it’s their last best chance to own their own home—and obtain the security they’ve never had. While she has enough for the down payment, she needs her mother to cover the rest of the asking price. But a week before they’re set to sign the loan papers, her mother gets cold feet and reneges on her promise, pushing Lynette to her limits to find the money they need.

Set over two days and two nights, The Night Always Comes follows Lynette’s frantic search—an odyssey of hope and anguish that will bring her face to face with greedy rich men and ambitious hustlers, those benefiting and those left behind by a city in the throes of a transformative boom. As her desperation builds and her pleas for help go unanswered, Lynette makes a dangerous choice that sets her on a precarious, frenzied spiral. In trying to save her family’s future, she is plunged into the darkness of her past, and forced to confront the reality of her life.

A heart wrenching portrait of a woman hungry for security and a home in a rapidly changing city, The Night Always Comes raises the difficult questions we are often too afraid to ask ourselves: What is the price of gentrification, and how far are we really prepared to go to achieve the American Dream? Is the American dream even attainable for those living at the edges? Or for too many of us, is it only a hollow promise?


The Night Always Comes by Willy Vlaudin is a somewhat bleak yet captivating novel set in Portland, OR.

Lynette lives with her mentally disabled brother Kenny and her mother in a run-down house in a neighborhood that is going through gentrification. She is thirty-years-old and desperately wants to own their home. With her credit shot, she is relying on her mother’s three-year-old promise to take care of the mortgage.  Their landlord is giving them a good deal on the price and Lynette finally has the down payment. Angry when her mom buys a new car, Lynette is shocked by her refusal to go through with their plan. Desperate to keep hold of her dream of home ownership, will Lynette change her mother’s mind?

Lynette, Kenny and their mother have been on their own with little help from her deadbeat dad. Having always lived in poverty, Lynette has had a difficult life but she has worked hard to turn it around. In between taking classes at the community college, she works two jobs and takes care of Kenny.  In the aftermath of her mother’s refusal to go through with buying the house, Lynette urgently seeks to find more cash to add to the down payment.

Over the course of one night, Lynette turns to someone she has limited contact with for advice and help. She then attempts to collect old debts to add to her nest egg.  This unpleasant journey through her past brings up painful memories she would rather forget. Her desperation leads to dubious decisions that put her in dangerous situations. Undeterred, Lynette refuses to give up on her home ownership dream.

The Night Always Comes is an absolutely riveting novel. Lynette is a flawed but easy character is root for as she tries to keep her dream alive. The various people she meets as she collects her debts are quite memorable. The storyline is engaging and the setting springs vibrantly to life.  Willy Vlaudin brings this gritty novel to a surprisingly hopeful conclusion. I great enjoyed and highly recommend this incredible novel.

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