BookBrowse Reviews The Night Always Comes by Willy Vlautin

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the book |  Read-Alikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Night Always Comes

by Willy Vlautin

The Night Always Comes by Willy Vlautin X
The Night Always Comes by Willy Vlautin
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Apr 2021, 224 pages

    May 2022, 224 pages


  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Callum McLaughlin
Buy This Book

About this Book



This bold critique of gentrification and systemic greed combines the pace of a high-stakes thriller with urgent social commentary.

Approaching 30, Lynette has spent the past three years juggling multiple jobs so that she, her mother, and her developmentally disabled brother can buy the run-down Portland house they have always called home. Concerned about the cost and the rapid urbanization of the neighborhood, Lynette's mother pulls out of the deal at the last moment, taking her financial contribution with her. Still desperate to ensure stability for her brother, Lynette embarks on a dangerous two-day mission to make up the shortfall. She hopes to pull together the last of the money she needs to afford the mortgage deposit on her own before the bank rescinds their offer. But this means reconnecting with various figures from her past — some of Portland's most morally questionable citizens. This journey ignites old traumas for Lynette and pushes her family to a breaking point, as the reader comes to understand just how much she has suffered in her bid to find security.

Willy Vlautin lays bare the dark side of gentrification, showing how working-class and marginalized groups are systematically squeezed out of their own communities — victims of meager pay and a lack of opportunity. The American Dream promises that hard work will reap rewards, but an uneven playing field makes this all but impossible for most. Vlautin shows how the pursuit of that dream widens existing gaps in attainment, fostering a culture of selfishness and a toxic cycle of greed, violence and exploitation.

While it's a relatively slight novel, Vlautin skillfully develops the two most prominent characters — Lynette and her mother. Their relationship is incredibly complicated due to their difficult past, and both prove themselves capable of being cruel and kind in equal measure. It is testament to their complexity that, for all the painful choices they are forced to make and all the objectively bad things they do, they are still sympathetic. Readers will be rooting for them to get their happily ever after. Due to the swift pace, the supporting cast doesn't receive this same level of nuance, but each character does provide further insight into the scale of Lynette's struggles.

The writing style itself is somewhat economical. Though this means it doesn't wow on a sentence-by-sentence level, the prose reflects the starkness of Lynette's situation, propelling the narrative forward with a fitting sense of urgency. Indeed, the brutal yet never sensationalist situations that Lynette finds herself in capture the reality of life in a downward spiral, hurtling her — and the reader — toward the story's end. On that front, Vlautin cleverly contrasts the preceding chaos with a moment of quiet melancholy, the conclusion hitting harder for its understated blend of hope and regret.

Though full of high drama, the most compelling aspect of The Night Always Comes is how believable its events are in today's world. In the guise of a highly readable page-turner, Vlautin has penned an ode to the resilience of those being left behind by gentrifying communities — embracing their stories, flaws and all, and calling for better support systems to be put in place before they slip through the cracks for good.

Reviewed by Callum McLaughlin

This review was originally published in The BookBrowse Review in April 2021, and has been updated for the June 2022 edition. Click here to go to this issue.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!


Read-Alikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked The Night Always Comes, try these:

  • Zorrie jacket


    by Laird Hunt

    Published 2022

    About this book

    More by this author

    "It was Indiana, it was the dirt she had bloomed up out of, it was who she was, what she felt, how she thought, what she knew."

  • The Cold Millions jacket

    The Cold Millions

    by Jess Walter

    Published 2021

    About this book

    More by this author

    The author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Beautiful Ruins delivers another "literary miracle" (NPR) - a propulsive, richly entertaining novel about two adventure-seeking brothers, the enemies who threaten them, and the women who reveal to them an unjust world on the brink of upheaval.

We have 5 read-alikes for The Night Always Comes, but non-members are limited to two results. To see the complete list of this book's read-alikes, you need to be a member.
Search read-alikes
How we choose read-alikes

Become a Member

Join BookBrowse today to start discovering exceptional books!

Find out more

Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Where Coyotes Howl
    Where Coyotes Howl
    by Sandra Dallas
    Where Coyotes Howl may appear to be a classically conventional historical novel — a wide-eyed ...
  • Book Jacket: After the Miracle
    After the Miracle
    by Max Wallace
    Many people have heard one particular story about Helen Keller—how the saintly teacher, Annie ...
  • Book Jacket: The Lost Wife
    The Lost Wife
    by Susanna Moore
    The Lost Wife is a hard-hitting novella based in part on a white settler named Sarah Wakefield's ...
  • Book Jacket
    Firekeeper's Daughter
    by Angeline Boulley
    Voted 2021 Best Young Adult Award Winner by BookBrowse Subscribers

    Angeline Boulley's young adult ...

Book Club Discussion

Book Jacket
The First Conspiracy
by Brad Meltzer & Josh Mensch
A remarkable and previously untold piece of American history—the secret plot to kill George Washington

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Pieces of Blue
    by Holly Goldberg Sloan

    A hilarious and heartfelt novel for fans of Maria Semple and Emma Straub.

Win This Book
Win Girlfriend on Mars

30 Copies to Give Away!

A funny and poignant debut novel that skewers billionaire-funded space travel in a love story of interplanetary proportions.



Solve this clue:

S I F A R Day

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.