My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Sometimes a book is so richly woven that it takes on a life of it’s own, projecting itself in vivid technicolor upon the inner walls of ones mind. Asleep Without Dreaming is one such novel.
Decidedly literary and with a healthy dose of suspense and a light sprinkling of young-love, I was pulled into the dysfunctional relationship that the main character Willa had with her mother, Stella.
And that Stella, let me tell you, is a piece of work.
The author gives us glimpses throughout the novel of Stella’s ways, slowly revealing her character or lack thereof. Meanwhile Willa, who has always had to rely on herself (even as a hungry child stealing vegetables from the neighboring gardens under the cover of night)is uprooted by her flighty mother in the middle of the night to head out for parts unknown. Unfortunately, car trouble takes the drifting mother and daughter of the road completely. Add and escaped convict on the loose, and arsonist, a nosy camp owner and a troubled young handyman, and the ingredients are all there for a life-changing time for Willa as she grows into adulthood.
The cast of characters were all very well developed, even the one that you never actually see. So much so, that I found myself getting mad once or twice like it was my own mother ticking me off and not poor Willa’s mother.
While reading this novel, I could smell the lake and ash drifting on the wind, I could feel the sticky summer heat, taste the sugary bottled pop. Barabara Forte Abate is clearly gifted with the ability to write more than just a good story, as she paints people and places to life with the sure, fine brush strokes of a Master.