The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing: A Novel - Mira Jacob

I picked this book on NetGalley because the idea of a family that traveled from India to settle in New Mexico (and then Seattle) just seemed like it had to be interesting — all interesting places, not very often mentioned together. I was especially drawn to a work that was considered perfect for fans of Meg Wolitzer and Jhumpa Lahiri; pretty good company for a debut novel.


So. I actually finished this book over a week ago. Usually when I read a book I like, I can’t wait to tell my friends (and anyone who will listen) about it. But something happened when I read this book, and I needed to live with it for a little while after I finished. There is an almost overwhelming sense of foreboding and sadness accompanying this book. I spent a good part of it nervous, and another good part waiting for the other shoe to drop. So when I finished, I was reluctant to let these characters go, and a little greedy about sharing their story. And truthfully, no matter how cliché it sounds, this book will break your heart if you let it, and I did. Maybe it’s because it’s about our parents aging; it evoked the sadness I felt when I read Please Look After Mom. It may have been that there were characters I related to in a tangential sort of way, but their life experiences, for the most part, were very different from my own, both geographically and culturally.


This is a story that spans generations. It is written in sharp, sometimes elegiac, deeply moving prose. It is overflowing with strong, intelligent, beautifully imperfect people struggling to make peace with their past, and reconciling themselves to their uncertain futures. It is also a book about hope, and our enormous capacity for faith in new beginnings. Most importantly, it is about families — the ones we are born into and the ones we choose — and how we grow and change with them over lifetimes of joy and sadness. It is an emotional journey, but I promise you will not regret the ride.