Monday, July 28, 2014

The Sleepwalkers Guide to Dancing; Mira Jacob

Mira Jacob
Random House - 2014

The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing is quite an amazing debut novel. It's a family saga, spanning some 20 years. The Eapens are a dysfunctional family, originally from India and now living in the US. Each family member has their own demons they are dealing with.

As the story begins, daughter Amina, once was a successful photojournalist, is now doing mostly wedding photography, for reasons which we learn later. In her 30's, she is living in Seattle, and is called home to Albuquerque, NM by her over bearing and religious mother, Kamala. Her mother is concerned because Amina's father, Thomas, a brain surgeon, has begun to act somewhat strange. He awakens during the night and carries on conversations with his deceased mother and others who have died.

The story pulls the reader back into the family's history, the immigrant experience, Thomas's desire to come to America so that any children born to him and Kamala would have a chance for a better life. For Kamala, her heart remained in her home country, a place she would have preferred to stay.  From Albuquerque to Seattle to India, readers will learn of the tragic events experienced by family members, which include the loss of the couple's son Akhil.

I found Akhil and Amina's story to be very compelling. Fortunately, there is humor peppered here and there, so that for me this story never felt depressing, despite some of what occurs. Sleep and "sleepwalking" surface throughout the novel and I think the title of this book could not have been more appropriate.

The writing is very good, but I thought the beginning was a tad confusing. It took me about 40-50 pages to begin to feel like it was a book worth continuing. There is a lot that happens in this book, so I was happy I did feel fully engaged after the somewhat rocky start. I found the last 150 pages or to be the most engrossing.  It's a story that was very different from anything I've read in a long time. It is clear that this author is a newbie worth watching for moving forward.

Try it!

4/5 stars


  1. This has so many elements that appeal to me - immigrant story, dysfunctional family, etc. I'll have to remember that it starts slow.

  2. Debut/family saga..this will be going on my TBR list.

  3. I love the title of that book! I love novels with a multicultural angle, and I have a weakness for stories about dysfunctional families.

  4. I usually have trouble with books that have slow starts - there have to be lots of bloggers saying you have to persist for me to keep going! :--)

  5. Sounds like one for my list!

  6. This sounds like something I would really like, Diane. It's been awhile since I last read a book like this. Thanks for the warning about the slow start!

  7. Hmm. A slow start but still compelling. Think I'll have to give this one a try.


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