Book Review: A Hundred Hours of Night by Anna Woltz

A Hundred Hours of NightA Hundred Hours of Night
Anna Woltz
Arthur A. Levine Books, May 2016
ISBN 978-0-545-84828-2

For this reviewer from the American Midwest, the premise that a fifteen-year-old female runaway from Amsterdam could or would fly to New York City, be admitted, and navigate the city on her own is hard to swallow. However, the girl is questioned, she had carefully prepared, and the story happened before the current terrorist scares. In this day of Google Maps and websites for everything, it’s possible to suspend disbelief. I realize that the history of the United States is filled with young teens who came to our shores with little more than the clothes on their backs to seek opportunity and adventure.

Emelia is in love with New York City, and when her father causes a scandal that threatens to ruin her life in the Netherlands, she uses his credit card and all the resources available to her to escape to what she deems the greatest city in the world. She has a plan, of sorts, but when she reaches her destination, everything begins to go wrong. Hurricane Sandy arrives on her heels, and it takes courage and a gradual need to relinquish some of her deep-seated fears and beliefs for Emelia to survive. Also, the help of new friends.

Anna Woltz’s latest YA story of one young girl’s coming-of-age journey is a compelling page-turner. The characters are complex, and each of their stories is intriguing. When their part of the city goes dark after the storm, we feel the cold and how the dark transforms the world the kids know. Each chapter brings a new problem or a new decision so that we want to keep reading to find out how it will end for these particular teens coping with Hurricane Sandy’s devastation as well as their own inner conflicts. Even with my limited familiarity with Manhattan, I could imagine the extreme dark and the struggle for basic needs in a city environment devoid of all the benefits electricity provides—even running water.

Hurricane Sandy’s destruction and its aftermath are scary, sad, exciting, and instructive. Nature trumps technology. The author employs scenarios created by the hurricane to create a story that teens can love while they learn about lives and problems beyond their own.

Reviewed by Joyce Ann Brown, June 2016.
Author of cozy mysteries: Catastrophic Connections, Furtive Investigation and Nine LiFelines, the first three Psycho Cat and the Landlady Mysteries.