The Sleepwalker

The Sleepwalker

by Chris Bohjalian

Overview: 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.

Marti Lawton (07/24/17): I am stunned. I did not expect it at all. Nope. Wham - surprise!

The Sleepwalker by Chris Bohjalian has brought me on another journey, into a world of sleepwalking. The story centered around the Ahlberg family. The mother is a sleepwalker. When she sleepwalks, Annalee sometimes participates in some behavior that is bizarre and inexplicable. One night she disappears, just gone. Paige and Lianne, her daughters and Warren, her husband miss her horribly. Their lives change as they deal with her being gone, not knowing if she was dead or alive. Lianne can’t let it go and spends time trying to find out what happened that night. She is dogged in her pursuit of the truth until...well the end.

Chris Bohjalian’s newest book The Sleepwalker builds up slowly. The story slowly unravels a stitch at a time. Each little piece that falls, does not fit together until it does and then WOW - stunned. I enjoyed reading the book. I had trouble putting it down especially toward the end. I did note toward the end that the Ahlberg family stopped at exit 9 in Warner! The Sleepwalker by Chris Bohjalian is a great read.
Rating: ****

Deanna Boe (06/26/17): Once more the author, Chris Bohjalian, has selected a topic that most of us probably know little about – sleepwalking. In fact, have you ever known anyone who does? Only once have I known someone, and even then never witnessed it. This novel provides some interesting thoughts and facts about sleepwalking.

The storyline is told by the oldest daughter, Lianna, as she relates what has happened to her mother, Annalee. The family is very aware of the fact she sleep walks and as the storyline progresses we find out she does this when she sleeps alone. Her husband has to attend a convention but since she has not sleepwalked in over four years the concern was minimal, unfortunately that was not the case. In the morning her daughters discover her gone. Lianna blames herself since she felt as the oldest she should have slept with her mother and perhaps prevented her from sleepwalking. She was on summer break from college and the guilt prevented her from returning in the fall.

Almost from the very beginning a character was introduced that leaves you wondering just what role he has to play in all of this; he was a young, good-looking detective by the name of Gavin Rikert. Interestingly enough he knew Annalee because they both attended a sleep walking clinic and often met to discuss how they were handling their problem. He approaches Lianna and tells her how he knew her mother and their background. Naturally, since we have an attractive young lady and an equally attractive young man, romance enters the scenario. Is Gavin trying to manipulate the outcome? Is Lianna? It is because of their involvement the actual type of sleepwalking the mother (and Gavin) do is introduced. “Sexsomnia” or a rare form of sleepwalking when the person becomes sexually insatiable is the type of sleepwalking that both Annalee and Gavin do. All of this does make one pause and wonder just where the storyline is heading.

If Annalee had not slept alone would she have gone sleepwalking? What role does Gavin play? Lianna? Or the youngest daughter Paige, who appears, more or less, as a minor character? Are there even any clues given in the first two-thirds of the book? I can only say it does have a surprise ending which I highly doubt you will have figured out. I have enjoyed Bohjalian’s novels in the past, I am not saying I didn’t enjoy this one, it was just different. If reading about sex offends you, this is not the book for you.
Rating: ***+

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