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Lights All Night Long (2019)

de Lydia Fitzpatrick

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1586136,526 (3.93)12
A gripping and deftly plotted narrative of family and belonging, Lights All Night Long is a dazzling debut novel from an acclaimed young writer "A luminous debut. . . . It's hard not to read the book in a single sitting."--The Los Angeles Times "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.… (mais)
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Mostrando 1-5 de 6 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
This was an interesting debut novel. The overall story is interesting and told well. It is the story of a Russian teenager moving to the US, his history and family in Russia, the family who hosts him in the US, and a mystery surrounding the killings of 3 girls in Russia. I would give this story 4 stars, but the pacing was a bit slower than I would have liked and until the end, there just wasn’t that much about the characters that made me relate to them or feel invested in their stories and struggles. I’m really interested to see what the author does with her next book, though. ( )
  bentleymitchell | Aug 27, 2021 |
Not sure. I don't think I even understood the ending. Meh.
  nwieme | Mar 19, 2020 |
Passing through Arrivals at Baton Rouge airport, Louisiana, is the most significant moment in Ilya Alexandrovich’s young life. On one side of the door he can pretend that this is all still a dream: that he’s still just the bookish student in his remote Russian hometown, cherished by his teacher, mocked affectionately by his peers, with a vague prospect of getting to America one day. But, on the far side of the door, his reality must be faced: his host family, the Masons, who have agreed to let Ilya live with them for a year while he attends school, improves his English and assimilates to a Western view of life. Ilya is profoundly aware of his good fortune in coming here, in escaping the dead-end lifestyle that faces so many of his friends; but that isn’t only reason he feels unhappy. His guilt is sharper, more focused, for in coming to America Ilya has been forced to leave behind the person he loves more fiercely than any other: his troubled brother Vladimir, who has recently been sent to prison for murder – a crime that Ilya passionately believes he didn’t commit. This evocative, moving story asks us what it means to belong – what we do when we don’t fit in – and how we can redeem ourselves when all hope seems lost...

For the full review, please see my blog:
https://theidlewoman.net/2019/10/05/lights-all-night-long-lydia-fitzpatrick/ ( )
  TheIdleWoman | Oct 7, 2019 |
Lights All Night Long begins with fifteen-year-old Ilya’s arrival in America. He is oddly detached, walking past his host family’s welcoming sign twice before stopping. He pretends he does not understand them and doesn’t speak English leaving them puzzled why he was chosen to participate in this exchange sponsored by the refinery companies in his hometown and theirs. The next morning, he apologizes and explains that he is struggling because his brother recently died.

This is not true. In fact, his brother has just confessed to murdering three women and is awaiting trial and sentencing in prison. It seems so appropriate that Ilya’s hometown was once part of the Gulag. The story goes back and forth from the past in Russia and the present in Louisiana. One thing unites both cities, the refineries and their bright lights that illuminate the sky all through the night, the lights all night long.

In the past, we see how close and how different the brothers are. Vladimir is older and protective of Ilya. Ilya is studious and bright, Vladimir struggles with school, reading with difficulty. Vladimir skips school, takes drugs, and runs away from home, squatting in an empty building. Ilya is recommended for an exchange program while everyone has given up, more or less, on Vladimir.

Except Ilya, who is determined to prove his brother’s innocence even from Louisiana. He enlists his exchange family “sister” Sadie in his research, hoping to find an American missionary who suddenly returned to America, perhaps a witness, perhaps the killer. Sadie has secrets of her own and the two are drawn together by their shared difficulties

Lights All Night Long is brilliant on many levels. It works as a coming-of-age story as Ilya learns more about the brother he loves so much and as he explores his first real love. It works, too, as a story of someone new to America, the initial discomfort and confusion of a new country but it avoids making that into a joke. It also works as a mystery, the slow, almost tortuous work of looking for a rather common needle in the American haystack.

Perhaps what I liked best about the story is how well-developed even the minor characters were. Take the host parents Cam and Jamie. They are on the surface pretty stereotypical Southerners, full of boosterism and religious devotion. Their lives center on their church. Yet, when push comes to shove for Ilya and for Sadie, we see so much strength and flexibility. Jamie, in particular, comes through as an amazing woman. So, too, Ilya’s family and his teacher. There are no flat characters. They inhabit the story so fully I can imagine them living lives outside this story.

This is a story overflowing with love, not just Ilya’s for his brother, but his mother and grandmother’s love. Ilya and Sadie and how thye come to love each other through their fears and secrets. Cam and Jamie’s love and how it grows and forgives. Even the love the communities have for their people. This is a story of people with good hearts who struggle with demons as best they can. I really loved it.

I received an e-galley of Lights All Night Long from the publisher through NetGalley.

★★★★★

https://tonstantweaderreviews.wordpress.com/2019/04/26/9780525558736/ ( )
  Tonstant.Weader | Apr 26, 2019 |
Lights All Night Long by Lydia Fitzpatrick is a highly recommended heartbreaking coming-of-age novel.

This is the story of two Russian brothers, Ilya and Vladimir, who take different paths. The novel opens with fifteen-year-old exchange student Ilya arriving in Effie, Louisiana, from Berlozhniki, a small village in Russia on the edge of the Arctic Circle. This should be an exciting time, a dream come true, but as he left Russia, he left his older brother Vladimir behind - and Vladimir has just been thrown into jail and charged with the murder of three young girls. Ilya knows Vladimir is innocent, but how can he prove it while living in America?

The story alternates between the Ilya's past in Russia, leading up to the present day, and his time in America, where he finds an ally and help from his host family's daughter, Sadie. The two brothers were always close, but Ilya has always been the studious one, excelling in learning English. As Ilya studied and prepared for the exam that would allow him to be an exchange student in America, Vladimir descended further into drinking and the local drug culture. Now Ilya and Sadie find a way to help Vladimir from afar.

The alternating chapters serve to contrast the poverty in Russia and the abundance in America, but also served to show, as Ilya learns more, some of the similarities in both countries and cultures. The novel does start out slow and it takes time to get a better feel for Ilya and establish some sense of connection to the characters. The connection with Ilya does improve as the novel progresses and his character becomes better developed, but the slow start to the narrative does serve to impede any immediate connection. Sadie, the oldest daughter of the host family, is developed as a character, but the rest of the family are never really developed beyond caricatures. Mostly, this is a tale of two brothers, their bond, and the very different lives the two live.

This is a well-written, compassionate, compelling account of Ilya's life and family and an impressive debut novel. The mystery, solving the murders, does reach a satisfying conclusion which is aptly tied into the plot. The focus is really on the relationship between the brothers and the lengths you will go to help those you love.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Penguin Random House.
http://www.shetreadssoftly.com/2019/04/lights-all-night-long.html ( )
  SheTreadsSoftly | Apr 3, 2019 |
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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 "A luminous debut. . . . It's hard not to read the book in a single sitting."--The Los Angeles Times "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.

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813.6 — Literature American and Canadian American fiction 21st Century

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