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Are You Sleeping by Kathleen Barber
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Are You Sleeping

by Kathleen Barber

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Wonderful book that kept me engrossed the entire time.

Full review here: https://marthasbookbabble.wordpress.com/2018/03/11/are-you-sleeping-review/ ( )
  Martha.Louise.Owen | Apr 23, 2018 |
I won this in a GOODREADS giveaway. A good read! ( )
  tenamouse67 | Jan 6, 2018 |
Like a lot of people, I was damn well obsessed with the podcast “Serial” when it aired it’s first season a few years ago. I had held off on listening to it for awhile, but then I gave in and was able to binge almost all of it over the course of a few days. As someone who has always been interested in true crime, the thought that someone may have gone to prison for a murder he didn’t commit, and that perhaps those around him may have known his innocence the whole time, I found the premise compelling. I know that some people found it ghoulish, as the podcast used the murder of Hae Min Lee as a framework for it’s investigation. Such grievances are raised in the novel “Are You Sleeping”, a debut from Kathleen Barber, and makes the reader look at it through the eyes of a murder victims family as old wounds are opened up for sensationalism and ‘entertainment’. I’ll admit I felt a little yucky with myself as I read this book. But I wasn’t just chastened; I was also sucked into the story of Josie, her twin sister Lanie, and the family that is still suffering from the fallout of the murder of the family patriarch.

The plot starts out common enough; Josie is living a happy life in New York with a genuinely good man named Caleb. But what Caleb doesn’t know is that Josie hasn’t told him about her past. Her father, Charles Berman, was shot in the head when she was a teenager, and her twin sister Lanie said that their Goth and rebellious neighbor Warren pulled the trigger. Shortly thereafter, their mother Erin ran off and joined a cult, and Josie split town as soon as she could and swore she’d never talk to her sister again, and never return. But then a popular podcast hosted by the duplicitous and fame hunger Poppy Parnell has started raising questions as to Warren’s guilt, and tragedy sweeps Josie back to her hometown, the secrets and lies she’s told her whole life starting to plague her. Pretty common fare for this kind of book. But what sets is aside from others I’ve read is that it makes use of the podcast format, as well as the social media frenzy that can come with it, to help frame the plot and the characters that we meet. It was great seeing twitter feeds, reddit posts, and transcripts from the episodes to get various pieces of the puzzle that we may not have otherwise seen, and it was kind of fun sifting through them like the reader, too, was an armchair detective. The pacing and tone was fast and tense from the starting gate, and I was basically hooked the moment that I sat down and committed to it, reading most of it in one day. The mystery itself wasn’t that hard to figure out, but it was definitely a fun ride to take even if I predicted the destination pretty early on.

That said, it wasn’t really doing much different or unique from this genre. While I definitely enjoyed it more than, say, “Every Last Lie” or “Into The Water”, it didn’t blow me away as some other thrillers this year have (“Everything You Want Me To Be”, anyone?). Josie wasn’t as large a mess as these kins of protagonists can be, which was incredibly refreshing, but Lanie was REALLY hard to take at times just because she very much WAS a huge, honking trainwreck. I’m relieved that the book wasn’t from her POV, because I’m pretty sure I couldn’t take that. None of the characters, however, really stood out as more than pretty standard players in this kind of book (the dutiful boyfriend, the ex who caused you pain, the uptight female relative). I had been hoping that there would be a little bit of experimentation with these tropes, but alas, it wasn’t to be.

But run of the mill characters and kind of easy to see ending aside, I really did have a fun time reading “Are You Sleeping”. Given that the holiday season is basically upon us and travel may be in some of your futures, I would definitely recommend this book for a long plane ride, a road trip, or just reading in the coziness of your home as the weather turns colder. But don’t let it shame you from listening to your favorite true crime podcast, okay? ( )
  thelibraryladies | Jan 5, 2018 |
"Twisty psychological thriller" - I don't think so. "Boring" would be a better way to describe this book. The only truly interesting character, Lanie, who is spectacularly crazy, should have been the central focus, and then maybe the story would have been appealing. Not recommended. ( )
  flourgirl49 | Jan 1, 2018 |
The basics: When Reconsidered, a podcast examining the murder of Charles Buhrman, becomes a huge hit, it sends many lives into chaos, including his daughter, Josie, who has done all she can to distance herself from the family after his murder.

My thoughts: Although I didn't love it as much as some people, I was caught up in the podcast Serial several years ago. That podcast inspired the fictional podcast in this novel. Josie narrates this novel, but her narration is intermixed with podcast transcripts, Reddit forums, and Tweets. As a narrator, Josie is frustrating at times. She's not necessarily unreliable, but she doesn't share all she knows (and to do so would ruin much of the suspense.) As a reader, I know I see situations differently when I'm reading a book and looking for clues than I would if it were my life, but it can still be a frustrating experience.

I knew very little about this novel going into it, and I think that's best. As we learn more about Josie and her past, it puts a very human face on pop cultural true crime obsession. In that sense, this novel is partially social commentary and partially an engaging mystery.

Favorite passage: "The truth is never complicated. It’s just the truth. Circumstances may be complicated, but the truth is always black and white."

The verdict: I enjoyed the mixed media elements of this novel the most. The mystery itself was underwhelming at times, but the premise as clever enough to elevate this novel. It's a fun, fast-paced reading experience, but the payoff wasn't as big as I hoped. ( )
  nomadreader | Nov 21, 2017 |
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A "psychological thriller about a mega-hit podcast that reopens a long-closed murder case--and threatens to unravel the carefully constructed life of the victim's daughter"--

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