Book: Sleeping in Eden by Nicole Baart
Publisher: Simon and Schuster, 2013
Genre: Contemporary Literature
Source + Date Read: ARC Review from Simon and Schuster + April 2013
Book Pro’s: This is a solid piece of literature that reveals a number of things about the human condition and how we cope with life, love and loss.
Book Con’s: Chock full of annoying, loathsome characters. Which is the point, but still, I didn’t like them.
This book was an interesting one, as it made me quite emotional and frustrated at times. First of all, the book is set up into 2 formats, the present as told from the point of view of Dr. Lucas Hudson. He has a frigid wife (who deserves such a good smack on the head that I envisioned reaching through my Kindle and giving her a cold one. ERGH) and to be very blunt: his life sort of sucks. We’re not told why at first but Baart expertly unpacks everything, so in the end it all makes sense. The second point of view is told from the past by Meg Painter (for some reason, I just realised that I spent the entire time reading the book thinking her name was Meg Pointer, that a sort of throws me off a bit) who we discover is a very central character in the book. In fact, everything that happens in it is a direct result of a number of decisions she made.
I enjoyed Meg’s character, she’s a strong-willed female who didn’t take much bs from people. But she had a weakness, can you guess what it was? Yup, it was a boy. We see Meg grow up from 13 to adulthood trying to straddle two lines, what she should do (and be with) and what she should not do (and should not be with). I found this struggle to be a bit irksome, I don’t do well with this internalized torture young women seem to put themselves through in their teen years. That being said, Baart takes a very annoying topic and made it digestible. The book wasn’t filled with frustrating angst or riddled with teenage strife- actually, that’s my favourite part of the book, it is well balanced. Every character has their moment and everything is explained. Baart has to be a good writer to pull this off because I’ve seen so many fail attempting to do so.
Now, lets get to Dr. Hudson. I didn’t like him, or his entire perspective. His wife was dreadful, Angela was … I don’t know what she was but I didn’t like her very much. I found a number of characters from the book to be very frustrating and dis-likeable but I think this was Baart’s point. I found it refreshing to see a nuanced and fragile portrayal of the human condition and our ability to cope with emotional and personal trauma and drama. No one was likeable, but at our core we all have those parts of us (the very insecure bits) that I’m sure would come off as dis-likeable if translated into word.
Yet in all of this, despite every dis-likeable character, the story was great. It was very interesting and had me captivated for the entire night (I started this at 9PM and finished at 1AM). What I like the most about this is Baart doesn’t sugar coat anything. Characters go looking for redemption and validation only to realise that life isn’t that easy, they have to work on their issues, not just go running from it. I like that. Even with all the fragility, there is a lesson to be learned.