Monday, September 24, 2012

Asleep Without Dreaming, by Barbara Forte Abate

Willa's life is far from stable.  Her father left, and her mother is a train wreck on a good day.  So, when Willa and her mother leave their home and head for California, Willa knows no good will come of it.  So it is no surprise that instead of heading to California, Willa and her mother Stella end up in a tiny town that is currently being terrorized by an escaped convict who is setting fires.  The pair ends up staying in a tiny motel for the summer, and Willa develops a complicated relationship with a local boy.

This book was really complex.  First and foremost, with a setting of a deserted motel and a criminal named Norman Hitchcock, I can only assume that this book is making a small homage to the film Psycho, which I thought was a fantastic little tidbit.

I really loved Willa's character.  My heart literally broke for her, she deserved so much better than Stella as a mom.  Stella is an absolute mess, and a monster of a woman.  Her behavior is less than a step away from abuse.  Yet, she certainly is a memorable character, and one that clearly raised a strong emotional reaction.  

I liked the concept of the town building up a the idea of the monster of Norman Hitchcock, all while ignoring the real monsters living in their own community.  I think we see this so much today, on both small and large scales.  People will ignore the monster in their backyard in order to chase the monster that is an outsider.  I felt the hysteria of the town was conveyed well, and while I was able to guess some of the plot twists, the majority of them were a surprise to me.

All in all, I found the book captivating and dramatic.  I found the ending brave, and the right ending for such a complex story.

I received a review copy courtesy of the author in exchange for an honest review.



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