Emerald Book Co.
Reviewed by Jen Karsbaek for Reader Views 07/08
A Not-So-Sleepy Novel
Angel Duet is a girl who has been sleep walking through life, both literally and figuratively. A diagnosed narcoleptic, Angel’s greatest disability is the hole in her heart left from her mother’s death. With only her mother’s photographs of clouds, Angel doesn’t know who her mother was, or even really what a mother is. Finding it easier to hide in her narcolepsy, Angel never allows herself to grow close to anyone, preferring sit at home with her longing for ‘mother.’
That is, until the summer before her senior year of college. In an attempt for normalcy, Angel takes a job working in a cotton field at the LSU Agricultural Center. That summer, trapped by a rainstorm, Angel is forced into conversation with her co-workers Kimmy and Tim, who want to get to know her better. Reluctantly, she admits her secret: narcolepsy and is somewhat unwillingly drawn into their worlds. Tim in particular is instrumental in coaxing Angel from her shell and forcing her to experience life. Some of what she experiences may be considered risqué – drug use, picking up guys in bars – but she is actually living for the first time. As her life starts anew, Angel begins questioning her basic assumptions about her life, including her father’s reticence on the subject of her mother and her mother’s death.
Overall I found this an enjoyable read. It is fairly literary, so it isn’t a book that one can just whiz through, instead it requires attention and thought. It is quite interesting how the themes of narcolepsy and reawakening play off of each other in what I would consider to be a fairly masterful way. That being said, a couple of things annoyed me in the reading of this book. First, the book is set in Shreveport, Louisiana and every character spoke with a strong Southern accent. All of the “cain’t”s started to get to me after awhile. The other thing was, and this is a possible spoiler, Angel’s response to her pregnancy. I do not have a problem with her being happy about her out-of-wedlock child, but I did take issue with her reasoning for it. The child, she said, would finally make her happy, finally be something that would love her, help her finally discover a sense of ‘mother.’ That is something that grates on my nerves, because I have seen too many young girls getting pregnant for those reasons. However, that does make her attitude ring true, because she has experienced the less than loving life experienced by so many of the other girls I mentioned.