Monday, January 11, 2016

The Longest Night

The Longest Night by Andria White is a debut novel of what I hope will be a long and productive writing career.

Nat and her husband Paul have just relocated to Idaho Falls, Idaho with their two young daughters, so that Paul can work at a nuclear plant sixty miles away.  They are a young military family and this is Paul's next step in his career.  Nearly as soon as his job begins Paul becomes aware of the fact that the reactor is in bad shape, and constantly setting off alarms and in need of repair.  Unfortunately his boss is a drunk, happy with the title he has, but unwilling to do anything about the sorry state of the reactor or the risk he is placing his workers in every day.  

Meanwhile, Nat is busy trying to be a good military wife. She is lonely in a new place without any friends or family.  

As Paul eventually takes out his frustrations on his boss and is deployed for six months, Nat is left alone to cope with the needs of her children and every day life in Idaho Falls.  When her car breaks down and she calls on a local mechanic, she is ecstatic by all the help he gives her.  Although the relationship doesn't move forward physically, the conditions under which Paul left, and Nat's loneliness do create a great deal of temptation.

And then, the unthinkable happens.  As tragedy unfolds, Nat and Paul must fight for their marriage.

White did so many things so well in this novel.  First of all, the early 1960s setting is well re-created.  I could see the peaches actually sitting on their beds of lettuce during lunchtime and the girls wanting for an Etch A Sketch at Christmas.  

Three narrators took turns telling this story: Nat, Paul, and Jeannie, the wife of Paul's boss. Each one was so believable, so flawed, that I loved each one of them.  These viewpoints gave such a wealth of depth to the story and to these people that despite some poor decision making, I was entirely caught up in their stories and understood what made them tick.

The third thing that White did so well was her ability to take an obscure event in history - the meltdown of SL-1 in Idaho Falls- and bring it to life.  I had never heard about this before, and greatly enjoyed doing a little digging and research on this topic while reading The Longest Night.

I am so excited that this is being released tomorrow and can't wait to hear what other think of it.  

1 comment:

Kay said...

I've been watching for reviews about this one. Love the vintage looking cover. I can remember my mother wearing dresses like that and the heels. And your mention of peaches on lettuce and Etch-a-Sketch is perfect. I'd read this one for the nostalgia alone. Hope to get to it soon. I have an advance copy.