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review 2017-02-03 15:16
Interesting, but not his best!
The Sleepwalker: A Novel - Chris Bohjalian

The Sleepwalker, Chris Bohjalian, author; narrators, Candy McClain, Grace Experience
The novel is told mostly through the voice of Lianna Ahlberg, but occasionally, another younger voice interjects with questions, concerns or explanations. I disliked several characters and I don’t know if it was the way the narrator portrayed them or if they were simply over developed, making them seem like caricatures rather than actual individuals.
Annalee and Warren Ahlberg lived in Bartlett, Vermont, with their two children, Paige and Lianna. Nine years separated the girls because of their mother’s frequent miscarriages. Paige was twelve and Lianna was twenty-one. She was about to enter her senior year in college.
Warren was a professor at Middlebury College and Annalee was an architect with an office in Middlebury. From outward appearances they were a typical happy family. Annalee was devoted to her children, and the couple seemed devoted to each other, but Annalee had a unique problem. She suffered from parasomnia or somnambulism or what is better known as sleepwalking. Lianna had, on occasion, discovered her mother in this state. One time, she actually found her on a bridge and may have saved her life. Annalee was unaware of what she did when she went for a walk in her sleep. Somnambulists had been known to drive in their sleep. Their eyes would be open, they would appear conscious, but they were in a sleep state and were not aware of the presence of others. They might go out naked, or take off their clothes at some point later on. They might have sex in their sleep. Sometimes, they would go out searching for sex while sleeping. They were unaware and often ashamed of this behavior. There were sleep clinics which attempted to treat this disorder which appeared to be genetic and could, therefore, be passed on to progeny.
Because Annalee only seemed to walk in her sleep when her husband, Warren, was traveling, he had stopped making business trips until he felt she was stable and no longer would be in danger of walking in her sleep and possibly coming to harm. When he felt it was safe, he decided to attend a conference, and on that first night when he was gone and the girls watched over their mother, something went wrong. When Paige woke up in the morning, she discovered her mother was gone. She rushed to tell Lianna. They both searched for her but did not find her. They called 911, but they were rebuffed by a responder who said they should call back because the shift was ending shortly. When they reached their dad, he told them how to proceed and the police eventually arrived. One of the detectives was a man called Gavin Rikert. Coincidentally, he also had a sleep disorder, and he and Annalee had become friends when they were both in the sleep clinic at the same time. Even though Annalee was a good deal older, they bonded because of their mutual problem. When he began to interrogate the family, he was kind and Lianna was attracted to him. It was largely through this relationship that the mystery of Annalee’s disappearance was explored.
Regarding the novel, I didn’t think the vulgar moments were necessary. I also thought that there were a lot of side themes which didn’t seem that relevant to the thread of the story. Lianna was a bit shallow and self-indulgent when it came to snooping into the affairs and private records of others. She seemed immature on the one hand and overly promiscuous on the other. Her rude, often insolent and arrogant behavior made the relationship with a more adult and older Gavin, seem less plausible to me. At 33, he was about a dozen years older. Why would a “grown-up” tolerate the tantrums of an immature young woman, even one who is trying to find out what happened to her mother, a mother who had also been his friend? Paige was a bit over characterized as a sarcastic near-teenager. Warren Ahlberg seemed a bit too distant at times, not involved enough with helping the girls cope with the mystery of their missing mother as a parent normally would, even if they were suffering as well.
While I enjoyed the book, because of the information on somnambulism, and it was obvious that the author did a great deal of research for the book, I found some of the story disjointed. Still, as with all of Bohjalian’s books, there were secrets, lies, twists, misdirection and surprises which held my interest. I never expected the ending, but it left me with unanswered questions that arose from what I thought were holes in the narrative that remained unfilled. 

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review 2017-01-16 19:09
The Sleepwalker
The Sleepwalker: A Novel - Chris Bohjalian

By: Chris Bohjalian 

ISBN: 9780385538916

Publisher: Doubleday

Publication Date: 1/10/2017 

Format: Other

My Rating: 3 Stars 


Master storyteller, Chris Bohjalian returns following The Guest Room landing on my Top Books of 2016 with an intriguing tale of the mysterious world of parasomnia and dark family secrets. Recommend reading the novella, The Premonition, a prequel to THE SLEEPWALKER.

“I am terrified by this dark thing that sleeps in me.” – Sylvia Plath

Set in Vermont, a young mother sleepwalks and performs complex behaviors. Now she has gone missing. Annalee is a sleepwalker. A condition, or a state, a sleep behavior somewhere between dreaming and wakefulness

Her daughter Lianna was twenty-one and her sister, Paige was twelve. The husband and father, Warren (English Professor) at the elite New England college--was away on business. They have not recovered.

Annalee embarrassed her husband. They both felt shame, but for different reasons. He because of what people saw and she because of what she could not control. The parents often fought. Annalee was smart and beautiful. She battled depression and took antidepressants.

“They tell you there is no connection between sleepwalking and dreams. Perhaps. After all, you can remember your dreams."

The girls were years apart and there had been five miscarriages between the two births. Seven years later the sleepwalking began. Lianna was in high school and Paige in the second grade.

When the mother was sleepwalking, it seemed she was oblivious, even to the weather, and no recollection of the events the follow day.

"You climb out of bed. You search out a stranger who will satisfy the craving. With any luck, you will wake before you find one. But not always."

The events only occurred when the father was out of town—including the night when she vanished once and for all. It was why the police almost instantly discarded him as a suspect. He had been at a poetry conference in Iowa City.

Both the girls are feeling guilty since neither woke up that night. No body had been found.

“It’s only when the dreams lead you from your bed; from sleep, that the amusements become dangerous.

The next morning, the patient is amnestic. They remember nothing or next to nothing or presumes it was merely a dream.

Detective Gavin Rikert with the Bureau of Criminal Investigation in Waterbury is on the case. Lilanna is sure her mother did not kill herself and she was not having an affair.

An accident? Did she drown? They found a scrap of nightgown; it was by the river. A concussion. They hoped she was not in the water. The Detective and the mom had attended the same sleep center. He mentioned they had not seen one another for the last several years. Lianna thinks he knows more than he is saying.

The author sprinkles first person notes in italics between chapters. The reader is unsure who is speaking-adding to the mystery.

The novel unfolds surrounding the fallout emotions of the disappearance of Annalee. Warren throws himself in work and drinking; whereas Lianna takes drugs to dull the pain, and Paige swims the river in search of the mother. Everyone handles the guilt and grief in different ways.

People go to the extremes when sleepwalking. From having sex, commit crimes, cook, drive, and drown. It also runs in the family. The ongoing mystery of what really happened to Annalee- to the final conclusion.

If you have read any of Bohjalian’s previous books, you come to expect he tackles highly charged emotional topics with informative and well-researched compelling information. Twisty, slow-burning, and absorbing.

“The earth is as rich with magic as it is with horror and sadness.”

While the subject was fascinating, I will admit this was not my favorite of his books. Felt, it was missing the intensity, suspense, and literary flair of his previous books. Not sure I enjoyed it enough, to read "book two" in the series.

In addition to the reading copy, I also purchased the audiobook, and while I enjoy Cady McClain, the other performer Grace Experience had the most irritating voice. Later discovered Grace is Chris's daughter (sorry); however, a narrator will make or break a book.

There are six common parasomnias that afflict sleepers:
* Sleepwalking. More commonly seen in children, sleepwalking (also called somnambulism) affects about 4 percent of American adults
* REM sleep behavior disorder
* Nightmares.
* Night terrors
* Nocturnal sleep-related eating disorder
* Teeth grinding

A special thank you to Doubleday and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.



Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2016/09/02/The-Sleepwalker
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review 2017-01-13 22:53
The Sleepwalker
The Sleepwalker: A Novel - Chris Bohjalian

I am a fan of Chris Bohjalian's books two reasons. One because I find myself reading unstoppably from start to end. Second because each book that I have read takes on a completely different topic meticulously researched. I have enjoyed the books to varying degrees but always appreciated the thoughtfulness with which the topic is handled. The Sleepwalker is no different as it takes on parasomnia and a family's grief. Stayed up to read it!


Read my complete review at Memories From Books - The Sleepwalker


Reviewed based on a publisher’s galley received through NetGalley


Source: www.memoriesfrombooks.com/2017/01/the-sleepwalker.html
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review 2017-01-10 23:45
The Sleepwalker: A Novel - Chris Bohjalian

I was so excited when my request for this book got approved. I had read "The Guest Room" and loved it! This one, not so much. It was, frankly, rather slow at times. Lianna asked a lot of questions, but I guess I would do the same if my mother were to go missing. Plus, she certainly had a lot of time on her hands. While reading it, I just felt like the dad was just there, almost nonexistent. And the cop for some reason just gave me the chills.

I do have to say that the ending was certainly jaw dropping and I did not see that coming. I also know a lot about sleepwalking that I didn't know before. Who knew there was such a thing as "sleep sex".

I see a lot of 4 and 5 stars for this book, so apparently they saw something I didn't. I did read this off and on over the course of five days, something I do not like to do. So there is a chance I did miss something.

Thanks to Doubleday Books and Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2017-01-08 01:01
The Sleepwalker
The Sleepwalker: A Novel - Chris Bohjalian

Chris Bohjalian is one of those authors that I can rely on to give me a story that will draw me in and at some point leave me shocked and surprised. This book was no exception. The disappearance of Annalee Ahlberg had me guessing and wondering throughout the book.


Readers follow Annalee's daughter, Lianna, as she and her family struggle with Annalee's disappearance. Annalee had previously been prone to sleepwalking when her husband was away and they fear that her sleepwalking has lead her to danger.


At first I did like Lianna but as she continued to make questionable decisions throughout the less I started to like her. I was very suspicious of her relationship with Gavin and never really approved of it.


The plot seemed to drag a bit in the middle but the surprise at the end made up for that. I spent most of the book trying to figure out what happened and I am happy to say that I didn't figure it out.


Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the galley.

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