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The Sleepwalker: Book summary and reviews of The Sleepwalker by Chris Bohjalian

The Sleepwalker

by Chris Bohjalian

The Sleepwalker by Chris Bohjalian X
The Sleepwalker by Chris Bohjalian
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  • Published Jan 2017
    304 pages
    Genre: Mysteries

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About this book

Book Summary

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Guest Room comes a spine-tingling novel of lies, loss, and buried desire - the mesmerizing story of a wife and mother who vanishes from her bed late one night.

When Annalee Ahlberg goes missing, her children fear the worst. Annalee is a sleepwalker whose affliction manifests in ways both bizarre and devastating. Once, she merely destroyed the hydrangeas in front of her Vermont home. More terrifying was the night her older daughter, Lianna, pulled her back from the precipice of the Gale River bridge. The morning of Annalee's disappearance, a search party combs the nearby woods. Annalee's husband, Warren, flies home from a business trip. Lianna is questioned by a young, hazel-eyed detective. And her little sister, Paige, takes to swimming the Gale to look for clues. When the police discover a small swatch of fabric, a nightshirt, ripped and hanging from a tree branch, it seems certain Annalee is dead, but Gavin Rikert, the hazel-eyed detective, continues to call, continues to stop by the Ahlbergs' Victorian home. As Lianna peels back the layers of mystery surrounding Annalee's disappearance, she finds herself drawn to Gavin, but she must ask herself: Why does the detective know so much about her mother? Why did Annalee leave her bed only when her father was away? And if she really died while sleepwalking, where was the body?

Conjuring the strange and mysterious world of parasomnia, a place somewhere between dreaming and wakefulness, The Sleepwalker is a masterful novel from one of our most treasured storytellers.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Bohjalian... never writes the same book twice... His new novel is suspense with a twist. Hint: a sleepwalking heroine seems to figure in the shivery plot." - Library Journal

"Best-selling Bohjalian (The Guest Room, 2016) raises essential questions of identity and heredity, sexuality and desire, bringing the Ahlberg family conundrum into focus with a didn't-see-that-one-coming powerhouse ending." - Booklist

"Powered by brilliantly rendered characters, an intriguing topic (parasomnia), and a darkly lyrical narrative that captures the melancholic tone of autumn in New England perfectly (red maples in their "death throes"), this novel has only one weak point - its highly improbable conclusion, which may leave readers unsatisfied." - Publishers Weekly

"The problem with the novel is primarily one of shape. The first two-thirds of the book are spent wondering whether Annalee is missing or dead. Once we find out, the pace picks up, but the only reason the ending is a surprise is because most of the clues seeded in the first two-thirds prove to be red herrings. Sensational subject matter aside, this thriller is a sleeper." - Kirkus

"The Sleepwalker is more than a mystery: it's a beautiful, wrenching novel of family secrets and the enigmas that link husbands and wives and lovers. And then that ending? Devastating and perfect." - Harlan Coben

This information about The Sleepwalker was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

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Lois

Can't Wait to Discuss!
Once again I was very satisfied with a Bohjalian book! He tells a story so smoothly and you find yourself taken to another place without even noticing. Mom, Analee, disappears one night (she is a sleepwalker). With no body found, family and law enforcement are putting clues together as they find them. This story is told from the oldest daughter's view-so I felt like I was a member of the family, or a close friend. I have recommended this book and can't wait to discuss it!

Cathryn Conroy

Brilliant! This Book Will Give You Goosebumps
Imagine a mountain. A boulder is on the top. The wind and rain eventually--but slowly--push the boulder inch by inch to the crest. And then gradually it begins to tumble down that mountain...ever so slowly at first and then it picks up an inexorable amount of speed until it comes crashing to the bottom. That crash is the reader finishing this book. And the sudden wind that just blew over the boulder at the bottom of the mountain? Those are the goosebumps on the reader's arm.

"The Sleepwalker" tells the story of a typical, but accomplished, woman, Annalee Ahlberg. Married with two daughters and a successful career as an architect, Annalee could be anyone--except she sleepwalks. And her sleepwalking has an unusual, if not creepy, undercurrent. One night, Annalee simply vanishes from her home in a small town in Vermont. Author Chris Bohjalian expertly tells this tale that morphs from a simple story about a grieving family into a thriller laced with lies, guile, sex and mystery.

The book starts out VERY slowly. Repeat: very slowly. I imagine there are some readers who give up. Don't be one of them. And pay attention. There are important clues embedded in this somewhat mundane beginning. But all of this is absolutely required as fuel for the powerful blast that is to come. Stick with it, and you will be richly rewarded. (See goosebumps above.)

Hint: Read the Kindle Single "The Premonition" first. It's a short story prequel to "The Sleepwalker" and offers great insight into the characters' lives before the events of the novel.

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Author Information

Chris Bohjalian Author Biography

Chris Bohjalian is the author of twenty books, including The Guest Room; Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands; The Sandcastle Girls; Skeletons at the Feast; The Double Bind; and Midwives which was a number one New York Times bestseller and a selection of Oprah's Book Club. Chris's work has been translated into more than thirty languages, and three novels have become movies (Secrets of Eden, Midwives, and Past the Bleachers). Chris lives in Vermont and can be found at www.chrisbohjalian.com or on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Litsy, and Goodreads.

Author Interview
Link to Chris Bohjalian's Website

Name Pronunciation
Chris Bohjalian: boh-ZHAHL-ee-yen

Other books by Chris Bohjalian at BookBrowse
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More Recommendations

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