A Night Twice as Long

Farrar. Jun. 2021. 320p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780374309329.
Gr 7 Up–Alex is overwhelmed with guilt by her autistic brother’s placement in foster care after he nearly drowns while in her care. She is still reeling from being abandoned by her father, as well as coming to terms with her feelings for her best friend, Anthony. When the power grid mysteriously fails for several weeks, Alex and Anthony head on an Odyssey-like quest on foot to the VFW in a neighboring community where Anthony hopes to radio his mother, who is in the military. Along the way, the duo meets a pair of elderly nudists, a roadside prophet, a cult, and eventually Alex’s brother. The plot is rife with coincidences that make it unbelievable, such as Alex connecting with her dad’s new girlfriend and daughter. Similarly, some of Alex’s observations along the journey and sexual awakening stretch credulity and occasionally take readers out of the story. Still, the book may serve as a mirror for teens responsible for caretaking younger siblings. Given the ubiquitous uncertainty of the pandemic, many young people will also recognize the feeling of being powerless. Alex is white; Anthony’s mother is Black and his father is white.
VERDICT This coming-of-age story set against the backdrop of an apocalyptic power failure is an additional purchase for large collections.

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