Before We Sleep

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Katey and Ruth Snow have the kind of relationship most mothers and daughter have at one point or another: loving, contentious, and distant. But theirs is a relationship built on a secret Katey doesn’t learn until she is seventeen, the summer before she is to leave for college. Told in various voices across different generations, Jeffrey Lent’s Before We Sleep is a subtle and gorgeous look at what makes us who we are. It addresses how the experiences of our lives, both our joys and regrets, define us with grace and forgiveness while acknowledging, as one character states, “We do the best we can, mostly.”

Katey’s sections in 1967 reflect a burgeoning wonder at the wider world, one filled with political and social turmoil, all in stark relief against the unraveling quilt of her own family. The other perspectives–of her mother, Ruth, and father, Oliver–reveal the earliest flushes of love followed by concrete and unforeseen troubles brought on after Oliver returns from WWII.

For readers, the novel is also a gift in that several characters have a love of literature, and the references Lent makes are thoughtful and specific. His rhythm is, at times, akin to Hemingway’s, and the scope of the generations feels a bit like Faulkner. With detailed, lush description and an authenticity in the major characters, Before We Sleep is the kind of novel you want to read and share, especially with people you love.

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Star Count 5/5
Format Hard
Page Count 400 pages
Publisher Bloomsbury USA
Publish Date 2017-May-02
ISBN 9781620404997 Buy this Book
Issue August 2017
Category Modern Literature


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