Saturday, March 7, 2009

Review: Sleepwalking in Daylight

Summary: Once defined by her career and independence, stay-at-home mom Samantha Friedman finds that her days have been reduced to errands, car pools and suburban gossip. What was an easy decision for Sam years ago has become a nagging awareness that this life was her choice. Now she deals with a husband who shows up for dinner but is too preoccupied for conversation, and a daughter swathed in black clothing and Goth makeup who won't talk at all.

Believing she's an adopted mistake, seventeen-year-old Cammy has fallen into sex and drugs and pours herself into a journal filled with poetry and pain. On parallel paths, mother and daughter indulge in desperate, furtive escapism—for Sam, a heady affair with her supposed soul mate, fueled by clandestine coffee dates and the desire to feel something; for Cammy, a secretive search for her birth mother punctuated by pills, pot and the need to feel absolutely nothing. -- Mira

I consider myself a pretty big fan of Elizabeth Flock. I have read a few of her books, and I was absolutely blown away by ME AND EMMA. (Just ask my friends because I couldn't stop talking about the ending.) So when I found out that she had a brand-new novel coming out, I just knew I had to read it. Ms. Flock's latest book is called SLEEPWALKING IN DAYLIGHT; and it's already been featured on the March '09 Indie Next List.

I enjoyed SLEEPWALKING IN DAYLIGHT very much, though I hesitate to use the word "enjoy." I loved this story and the writing, but I have to warn you that this book is not exactly upbeat. Anytime I read about a teen that is having issues or a couple that is struggling to stay together, I admit that I find the book to be a bit of a downer. Having said that, do not let that deter you from picking up this book. SLEEPWALKING IN DAYLIGHT is an extremely well-written book with well-developed characters. I couldn't put it down!

When I read the description for SLEEPWALKING IN DAYLIGHT, I figured Samantha's story was going to be like so many of my friends' lives -- she was frustrated with her marriage, resenting her husband, not feeling fulfilled as a mother, wondering if there is more to life, etc. It wasn't until I delved further into this novel that I discovered that she was actually much more troubled and confused than the typical stay-at-home mom in her early 40s. And her daughter Cammy....I don't even know what to start. Like her mother, she was definitely confused and troubled; but my heart just went out to her. She was such a pitiful teenager who was in so much pain.

SLEEPWALKING IN DAYLIGHT is narrated by two characters -- Samantha, the mother and her adopted teenage daughter Cammy. I loved how the author chose this way to tell the story because I feel that the reader gets a better understanding of both of these characters. I also think it made me much more sympathetic towards Cammy, who at times was very hard to like. I thought it was terrific how the author juxtaposed these two characters' with their narratives while showing how actually similar they were. Even though both characters were quite different on the outside, they both were struggling with many of the same internal issues such as trying to find themselves.

I think Ms. Flock did an excellent job of developing the characters in this novel, especially Samantha and Cammy. I also think she did a fabulous job of portraying a dysfunctional family and a failing marriage. I thought all of the characters in this novel were heavily flawed, yet very human. There were times in this novel where I just wanted to shake some sense into the characters. I could see that so many of the characters were heading for a potential train wreck, and I was frustrated at their selfishness. What amazed me was that even though I didn't necessarily like many of the characters, I was able to understand them and feel compassion towards them.

I highly recommend SLEEPWALKING IN DAYLIGHT (love the title too!) and I think it would make a most excellent book to discuss at your next book club. There are some excellent discussion questions which touch on the many themes that occurred in this novel such as adultery, family dynamics, mother-daughter relationships, depression, drugs, teenage sex, finding one's self, etc. I guarantee that you won't be at a loss of issues to talk about.

A big thanks goes out to Anna from FSB Associates for sending me SLEEPWALKING IN DAYLIGHT.


Beth F said...

Sounds like a complex book that might interest me on a number of levels. Thanks.

bermudaonion said...

Great review, Julie. This plot does sound like what a lot of women go through in their 40s.

Kelly said...

What a good review! Even before I read the book, I'm thankful that the 40's are behind me!

Amy said...

This does look like a really good one and it is a very catchy title!

Ti said...

I know I will be forced to deal with teen issues soon and it scares me! I do appreciate a good book that truly captures what teens go through though. The issues that they deal with are so different than what we dealt with growing up.

Anonymous said...

This makes me want to put Me and Emma closer to the top of my list. I bought it over a year ago but have never gotten around to it.

S. Krishna said...

I definitely want to read this one. Thanks for the review!

Jill said...

I've never read anything by her before...but I read something about her latest, and it's been on my list. Looking forward to it even more now!