Sleepwalking in Daylight, by Elizabeth Flock
Publisher: Mira Books
Publication Date: February 24, 2009
Format: Hardcover, 368 pages
Sleepwalking in Daylight is the story of mother-daughter duo Samantha & Cammy Friedman. Once a mother and daughter with a strong relationship and loving bond, the two have hit a rough patch. Samantha wakes up and finds herself in a passionless marriage where she can’t connect with her husband. Though her husband was her best friend in college and they had done everything together, their relationship always lacked something and now, whatever common connections that they once shared have long since evaporated and they are lucky if they share intimacies once a year.
Another person with whom Samantha can’t connect is her teenage daughter Cammy. Cammy was once a compassionate little girl who was her mother’s confidante and comforter. Now her daughter is angry and bitter, with conflicting feelings over the fact that she was adopted. Cammy struggles, feeling like she is different and doesn’t into her family or anywhere else. Samantha gets glimpses of the girl that Cammy used to be, but for the most part she finds her to be unrecognizable. Cammy, thinking that she would be better off if she finds her birth mother, forges documents to start the search to find her without her parent’s knowledge or permission. What she finds out will have far reaching effects for her and her family.
This book has a deliciously pink cover; it’s like cotton candy or something, but do not let that fool you. Elizabeth Flock has done a deep exploration into a familial world where communication has broken down, and self-involved family members miss opportunities to connect with each other. The novel is told from the alternating viewpoints of Samantha and Cammy, and both are extremely flawed, grappling with some of the same issues- like finding a place where they feel they belong. Samantha turns to an affair and Cammy to sex and drugs, each trying to anesthetize the pain they feel. Unfortunately neither Samantha or Cammy knows how to build on the relationship they once had to reach out to each other.
I equally felt for and understood these characters and was frustrated by them. I wanted to hop in the book and shake them. I wanted Samantha to ask her husband questions and make him answer, I wanted Cammy to give her mom a break and to talk to her. Samantha’s deep self-absorption is troubling and the only thing that bothered me more was her husband’s complacency and inertia.
Though this is her fourth novel, Elizabeth Flock is a new-to-me author, and suffice it to say that I am definitely interested in checking out her other work, and seeing what else she has up her sleeve. Sleepwalking in Daylight was no easy read for me. I didn’t always like what I was reading and I was frustrated by the characters, but I have to say that they held my interest and involved me to the very end, even if it was only to scream at them to wake up. If you are looking for positive and upbeat, then don’t read this book. But if you want a deeply realistic drama about what happens when a family falls apart at the seams, then this just might be the one.
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