The Longest Night

By Andria Williams

4 out of 5 stars

Set in 1959, The Longest Night brings to life the threat of a nuclear disaster infused with the ups and downs of military family life. Paul and Nat Collier have moved to Idaho Falls with their two young daughters so Paul can work overseeing one of the country’s first nuclear  reactors. He works under a commanding officer who would rather sit in his office drinking and ignoring the obvious signs of danger  so he can protect his pension. Paul realizes things aren’t right with the reactor and he fights his conscience with whether to do anything about it or toe the line.

Nat, on the other hand, feels lonely at home with just the girls. After a disastrous dinner party, she realizes she just might not fit in with the other wives. Paul’s boss is all over her and his wife, a rather haughty woman, does not like that at all. Nat meets a young Mormon “cowboy” who treats her with such kindness and they become fast friends. When Paul is sent away to Greenland and Nat is pregnant and on her own, their friendship borders very close to the edge. What will happen when Paul returns?

I cannot imagine living so close to a nuclear reactor. It made me scared just reading about it.  The opening chapter lets us know that something bad happens at the reactor and you have that in the back of your mind throughout the story and that doesn’t sidetrack from anything at all. It gives a eerie sense of foreboding. I think that sense is in the family story as well. Will they make it?  I liked the slow pace that leads up to the climax. The only strange part to me was this bit about a missing girl. I kept waiting for that to lead to something else but then it kind of just lays there. And it was yet another book told in alternating chapters between Paul, Nat, and Jeannie (the boss’ wife)  but I think it had to be told be each voice to hit every emotion.  A wonderful debut novel.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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