The latest Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) this pedometer geek reader read was Chris Bohjalian’s The Sleepwalker. This is not the first of his novels this reader has read, nor will it be the last. In fact, the first was his The Law of Similars, which was discovered (and subsequently read) when this reader was studying for a degree in homeopathy. Since then, there have been others (Midwives, The Sandcastle Girls, and The Double Bind to name a few) that this reader has read. Each has been so different, but all have been compelling reading. So, too, is this one, and this is the extended review.
By Chris Bohjalian
Published by Doubleday, 2017
A division of Penguin Random House, LLC
The subject of the novel is a woman, Annalee Ahlberg, who has parasomnia (sleepwalking) and disappears one night. She sleepwalks all too often, but only when her husband is away. Finally after months and years in which he hasn’t traveled for his job as a professor, he goes to a conference in Iowa, and this is when she disappears and is presumed missing or dead.
Her two daughters, Lianna and Paige, are looking for answers and clues to her whereabouts as the novel opens. Paige, especially, is concerned and willing to swim the river Gale near where a scrap of her nightgown was found.
Enter detectives and police including one detective, Gavin Rikert, looking for information.
Told through Lianna’s perspective, the story is told of her mother’s sleepwalking habits and how it has affected/affects the family. The story also includes a secret romance between Lianna and Gavin. Despite Lianna’s pushing for information, Gavin doesn’t give up information about the case.
Eventually, months later, Annalee’s body is found, but it only produces more questions than answers for Lianna and her family. Yet, Lianna keeps trying to figure out more about the circumstances of her mother’s death. Frankly, she can’t let it go.
Complex and disturbing, full of lies, half-truths, and family secrets, this novel is interesting for various reasons, one of which is the snippets of a journal describing parasomnia and its manifestations. All the way through, this reader wondered: Who is writing the journal? There are several possibilities, making this as much a mystery as Annalee’s disappearance and subsequent death.
This reader found the descriptions of parasomnia particularly riveting, and it appears that the author did his research on the subject. If, for no other reason, this makes the novel worth reading; however, there are plenty of other reasons to recommend it (and suffice it to say, this reader does!).