Emails pop up every day in my inbox, offering eBooks at reduced prices, sometimes free, and I always look at them but seldom take advantage of any of the offers.
But one day a book popped up that immediately caught my interest. I was captivated by the book cover. It’s the picture of a shack amongst trees and a full moon overhead.
Asleep Without Dreaming by Barbara Forte Abate.
I’m glad I did. It was beautifully written. Long complex sentences that I often had to read more than once. It’s about a fifteen-year-old girl, Willa, who is pretty much alone. Her father left her with the woman who was her mother, but with whom he could not live.
Some people should never have children. Willa’s mother, Stella, is one of those. Willa lives her life, one day at a time, struggling to survive. She and Stella leave town one night to start a new life, after one of Stella’s probably shady dealings has blown up in her face. The car breaks down, they end up in a town as dismal as the one they just left.
It’s the story of that summer, spent in a neglected, seen-better-days motel. The prose is dark, it is often depressing, and the reader wants so much for something good to happen to Willa, who asks herself the question “Why is it so easy for everyone to leave me?” Stella begins to disappear for days at a time, until finally she never comes back at all.
There’s a boy, whom Willa comes to know, and their love is so deep that they don’t even need to speak about it. It just is. But all the while, the reader is beginning to speculate, that something is very much amiss, yet hopes please, don’t let it be true.
Many readers don’t like books like this. They want fairytales, and happily ever after, and devoted parents, especially moms with their daughters. This novel has none of that. Instead there are beautiful descriptions, haunting images and profound thoughts.
This book affected me very deeply, as an example of true literary fiction, of not writing to a formula, but writing from the heart.
The book cover captures the essence of the story. In this case, you can tell a book by its cover.