The stunning debut of a voice unlike any other, along with a raw story-telling confidence and characters who live and breathe on every page.
by Leila Mottley
Kiara Johnson and her brother Marcus are barely scraping by in a squalid East Oakland apartment complex that calls itself, optimistically, the Royal-hi. With their family fractured by death and prison, both siblings have dropped out of high school—but while Marcus clings to his dream of rap stardom, Kiara’s been hunting for work to pay their mounting bills. Bills that just doubled, with news that the Royal-hi has been sold. And when a neighbor abandons her 9 year old son Trevor, Kiara steps in to keep him safe and fed with money she just doesn’t have. What begins as a drunken misunderstanding with a stranger one night soon becomes the job she never wanted but now desperately needs: nightcrawling. Her world soon breaks open when Kiara’s name surfaces in a police officer’s suicide note, exposing her as a key witness in a massive scandal within the Oakland PD. Those crying for justice beg Kiara to tell her side of what happened, but if she testifies, she leaves the fragile eco-system of her family vulnerable to police retaliation…
Leila Mottley is an author native to Oakland, California, with an interest in reflecting on institutional and individual inequity, liberation, and joy through writing. Leila performed poetry and ran poetry workshops as the 2018 Oakland Youth Poet Laureate and has been published in various journals and anthologies such as GIA Reader with her poetry collection pending publication at Nomadic Press in Fall 2020. She currently attends Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, as an English Major with a concentration in Creative Writing.