The All-Night Sun by Diane Zinna Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A young teacher reeling from the loss of her parents a decade before finds herself in an unusual friendship with one of her students, and travels to Sweden during the summer to experience the Midsummer’s Eve, and in the process discovers a dark side to her student in author Diane Zinna’s “The All-Night Sun”. 

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The Synopsis

A lonely young woman gets too close to her charismatic female student in this propulsive debut, culminating in a dangerously debauched Midsommar’s Eve.

“Memorable and meaningful.”—Claire Messud, New York Times bestselling author of The Burning Girl

Lauren Cress teaches writing at a small college outside of Washington, DC. In the classroom, she is poised, smart, and kind, well-liked by her students and colleagues. But in her personal life, Lauren is troubled and isolated, still grappling with the sudden death of her parents ten years earlier. She seems to exist at a remove from everyone around her until a new student joins her class: charming, magnetic Siri, who appears to be everything Lauren wishes she could be. They fall headlong into an all-consuming friendship that feels to Lauren like she is reclaiming her lost adolescence.

When Siri invites her along on a trip home to Sweden for the summer, Lauren impulsively accepts, intrigued by how Siri describes it: “Everything will be green, fresh, new, just thawing out.” But once there, Lauren finds herself drawn to Siri’s enigmatic, brooding brother Magnus. Siri is resentful, and Lauren starts to see a new side of her friend: selfish, reckless, self-destructive, even cruel. On the last night of her trip, Lauren accompanies Siri and her friends on a seaside camping trip to celebrate Midsommar’s Eve, a night when no one sleeps, boundaries blur, and under the light of the unsetting sun, things take a dark turn.

Ultimately Lauren must acknowledge the truth of what happened with Siri and come to terms with her own tragic past in this gorgeously written, deeply felt debut about the relationships that come to us when things feel darkest–and the transformative power of female friendship.

The Review

A truly powerful and gripping tale of friendship, loss, and grief, author Diane Zinna has crafted a masterful and emotional novel. The protagonist perfectly captures the raw and heartbreaking reality of losing one’s parents and the feeling of loneliness and heartbreak that comes from it. The whirlwind friendship she develops with Siri and the sudden connection she develops with Siri’s brother Magnus helps to lay the foundation for the shocking and crumbling world Lauren has built herself, and how grief can block us from the world as it moves on without us.

Yet it was the balance of atmosphere and culture that really grabbed my attention as a reader. The setting not only of Sweden but of the events of Midsommar added so much history and culture to not only the narrative but the character’s backgrounds, while the atmosphere and the blend of quick friendship with sudden isolation really captured the fragility that grief can create in us all, especially when trauma begins to block out memories along the way.

The Verdict

A remarkable, emotional, and heartfelt story of painful losses and the path to finding hope and friendship again, author Diane Zinna’s “The All-Night Sun” is a must-read novel! That author does an incredible job of capturing the heart and soul of the protagonist’s internal struggle while layering a mystery behind the fate of the young woman who brought Lauren back out of her grief into the narrative. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Diane Zinna is originally from Long Island, New York. She received her MFA from the University of Florida and has taught creative writing for over ten years. She was formerly the executive co-director at AWP, the Association of Writers & Writing Programs, which hosts the largest literary conference in North America each year. In 2014, Diane created the Writer to Writer Mentorship Program, helping to match more than six hundred writers over twelve seasons. Diane also has a degree in Psychology and leads a popular grief writing class every Sunday for writers of all levels of experience.

The All-Night Sun, her first novel, was longlisted for The Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize and the Cabell First Novelist Award. In 2020, Diane received the ArtsFairfax Artist Grant, and her work appeared at Electric Literature, LiteraryHub, Brevity, and Monkeybicycle. Diane lives in Fairfax, Virginia, with her husband and daughter. 

http://dianezinna.com/

https://www.instagram.com/dianezinna/

https://www.bookbub.com/books/the-all-night-sun-by-diane-zinna

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