An exploration of greed and opportunism set amidst a rapidly gentrifying city; a novel taking place over 48 hours in which a young woman must push herself to her limits to get the security she needs for herself and her family.
... determined ... This is a novel that lives firmly in the melancholia of the city’s gentrification, hurtling readers through one woman’s desperation to keep her life afloat in a city that’s pushing its working class out, one razed lot at a time ... The novel, Vlautin’s sixth, stalls out during its many long monologues spelling out exactly what each character is thinking in clunky detail. Vlautin’s etchings of the city’s poor, white population are at times overwrought, especially around the topic of weight, as are the inner lives of anyone who’s not the main character. That tendency is extra egregious when it comes to Lynette’s mother, a dreary antagonist whose motives no number of monologues manage to three-dimensionalize ... The novel regains its footing, though, in the moments where we get to live in Lynette’s inner world ... The central question of her night resonates beyond this one family: Can one person be built to sink, or is she set up to fail by an entire system designed to keep the poor not just working, but hurting? Anyone who’s scrambled within the confines of poverty may relate to Lynette’s quest for agency over her own fate. With The Night Always Comes, Vlautin chronicles the downfall of a city. As Lynette’s story illustrates, it’s an undoing that is deeply personal, too.
The pressures of poverty give the novel its vivid unpredictability, creating an almost constant temptation to lawlessness. Lynette feels speared on a paradox of the American Dream—realistically, in order to become a responsible homeowner and caretaker, she has to cheat and steal ... Mr. Vlautin has some trouble integrating his characters’ pasts into the narrative. Here it comes out in a number of unnaturally long-winded monologues. Nevertheless, The Night Always Comes is a taut, action-packed production with a memorable protagonist who never abandons her sense of moral truth amid the Darwinian scramble for cash.
... emotionally wrenching ... Vlautin never lets us forget that hovering over Lynette’s Hail Mary pass at salvation is the spectre of gentrification: 'The whole city is starting to haunt me . . . all the new places, the big new buildings, just remind me that I’m nothing, that I’m nobody.' Her friend, Shirley, begs to differ: 'You never give up and you’ve got a good heart, a damaged heart, but a good heart.' We concur, of course, and race to the end to see if good hearts can maybe, just this once, make a difference. With Vlautin, you never know for sure.