Author Anna Woltz takes her real life experience of living in New York City during Hurricane Sandy and augments her adventures into thoughtful young adult contemporary fiction in A Hundred Hours of Night.
Three things emerge from the novel that make it more distinctive from other YA fiction. First, it is amusing to read a novel where the protagonist is a foreigner experiencing America for the first time; secondly, they happen to be experiencing it during a real life event such as Hurricane Sandy; lastly, for a book to have been translated from one language to another and still hold a connection with readers is an incredible feat.
Fifteen-year-old Emilia de Wit thinks she’s escaping a calamity of her father’s making when she runs away from her home in the Netherlands, only to encounter Mother Nature’s own chaos in New York City during a devastating hurricane. Emilia’s reasons for running are gradually exposed, and while the storm brews outside, she starts to come to terms with the storm that is raging in her own life.
“I want to scream, but I hold it in. I dig my nails into my palms and listen to Sandy. Today, she does all of my gasping and wailing and screaming for me.”
Luckily, Emilia doesn’t have to endure this unforeseen event alone as she finds herself intermingled with three cohorts who happen to be running (knowingly/and unknowingly) from internal conflicts of their own. Although it may not seem so at first, these secondary characters help move the story positively forward; especially the precocious 11-year-old, who all but steals the show, and readers’ hearts.
Familial conflicts abound, and although it is a sensitive subject, Woltz portrays it without explicit detail, which feels right for this demographic. Yes, this may be about a group of minors alone in the city, so there is some entitlement, but there is also tenderness, humor, exposure, and submission that even an adult can appreciate.
“We’re all floating in our own among the stars. You have to accept that. And if, during the course of our life, you find a few people who float along side you, somewhere within hearing distance, then you should be happy.”
This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Arthur A. Levine (A Scholastic Imprint)
Profanity/Language: 28 religious exclamations: 10 mild obscenities: 3 scatological words: 4 anatomical terms: 20 f-word derivatives. Note: mention of teen flipping off the world by making their own choices, not tallied.
Violence/Gore: Mention of threats on social media; character’s injury bleeds; character recalls being bullied with threats; statistical report of plane and auto accidents resulting in death; brief mention of dangerous predators; character has apparent injury (this injury is mentioned a few times throughout the novel); character passes out landing on another character; joke of murder; statistical report of death; report of being in New York during 9/11; extended scene (about 1 page) character discusses violent threats made against his/her family via social media; report of sibling having been beaten up at school; brief comment of ancestors fleeing homeland because of persecution; mention of war; unintentional remark about killing one’s self; mention of character fearing threats of rape; news reports of death; report of natural disaster causing property destruction (3x); character slaps another character in jest; report of deaths and property destruction caused by natural disaster; possibility of violence; extended scene (1 page) implication that parent may have committed suicide (2x); mention of idle threat; threats on internet; brief news report of death.
Sex/Nudity: Clinical reference to nudity; brief mention of sexual predator; mention of show Sex and the City (2x); male undresses to underwear in front of female (non-sexual); half-naked teen male and fully clothed teen female share bed (non-sexual); joke of sexual assault; mention of it being ok to be gay because same sex marriage is now legal; male examines female’s undergarments; female notices male’s bulge as he is in his underwear; mention of kissing; character visits museum with famous nude pictures are on display; the words “horny” and “pervert” are used; accusation/implication of adult male having an affair with underage female (this is referenced to many times throughout the novel); mention of adult male sending underage female romantic texts (mentioned few times throughout novel); words “rapist” and “pedophile” are used; female notices other female’s large breasts (non-sexual); child discusses why he/she signed up parent on a dating website and went to meet the adult on their own; couple pretends to go on date; joke about kissing; mention of dating; character is said to be alone in the bathroom in their underwear; comment on prostitution; mention of character fearing threats of rape; extended scene (about 1 paragraph) minors discuss dressing up sexy for Halloween; mention of having a significant other; mention of pornography; comment made about female’s chest; discussion of adult sending what could be considered romantic texts to minor; mention of sex and pervert; comment that teen’s parents do not discuss condoms with him/her; extended scene (about 1 page) minors discuss without detail sex and reproduction; mention of pornography on internet; sexual reference (2x); hold hands; mention of pornography; adult male confesses to having a crush on minor female; character thinks about kissing another character.
Mature Subject Matter:
Teen runaways, sexual scandal (involving adult and minor), natural disaster, death of parent/implication of suicide, OCD behavior, social media threats/harassment.
Alcohol / Drug Use:
Underage character encounters drunk adults; teen is asked out to a bar by adult; drunk teen passes out; minor admits to drinking alcohol while taking prescribed pain medicine; comment about selling drugs; teen admits to parent drinking too much (2x); minors drink mulled wine; comment that teen’s parents do not discuss alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes with him/her.