ARC Review: Are You Sleeping by Kathleen Barber

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The only thing more dangerous than a lie…is the truth.

Josie Buhrman has spent the last ten years trying to escape her family’s reputation and with good reason. After her father’s murder thirteen years prior, her mother ran away to join a cult and her twin sister Lanie, once Josie’s closest friend and confidant, betrayed her in an unimaginable way. Now, Josie has finally put down roots in New York, settling into domestic life with her partner Caleb, and that’s where she intends to stay. The only problem is that she has lied to Caleb about every detail of her past—starting with her last name.

When investigative reporter Poppy Parnell sets off a media firestorm with a mega-hit podcast that reopens the long-closed case of Josie’s father’s murder, Josie’s world begins to unravel. Meanwhile, the unexpected death of Josie’s long-absent mother forces her to return to her Midwestern hometown where she must confront the demons from her past—and the lies on which she has staked her future.

 

TW: Suicide & suicidal thoughts, heavy drug & alcohol usage.


 

Trouble is the only thing that occurs between midnight and sunrise.

 

Alright folks, are you ready for this one?

I’m going to try to give this some semblance of order, so let’s talk about:

 

The Characters

Josie

When we first meet our MC she appears to be living the perfect life: a career that she enjoys, a man that she loves and loves her equally, a beautiful home and a quiet, unassuming life. Until Poppy Parnell.

But those are just appearances. What I’ve found instead is that Josie is infuriating, has poor judgement, selfish. She certainly doesn’t deserve Caleb and he doesn’t deserve any of what she put him through.

 

Poppy

Our Podcaster/Investigative Journalist/Human Scum. As far as antagonists go, Poppy is right up there, not because she is superiorly evil. No, she earns her place on the list because her type of evil exists in the real world: apathy. Her sole focus was ‘getting the story’ and she didn’t care if she ruined lives along the way; her disregard was infectious. Her followers were vicious and just as relentless as she is. No memory or moment is sacred.

Poppy Parnell is an example of the worst kind of human and the worst sides of modern humanity.

 

Lanie

Her storyline interested me more than Josie’s and I would’ve been more intrigued by her POV. But, she is a brat so maybe I might’ve DNF’d if I had to much of her, I don’t know.  Also, Ann is precious and she needs to be protected AT ALL COSTS!

The rocky relationship between these two sisters is our central focus, whether you care about that or not. I think they couldn’t get along because they are both so self-absorbed and selfish that they couldn’t see beyond their own suffering to realize that the other was suffering as well.

 

As someone who only has a brother, I could not IMAGINE going ten years without speaking to someone who shares my DNA let alone a twin, regardless of the hurt. But, people react differently to pain so…who am I to judge?

 

The Plot

 

 

I really enjoyed the idea of the podcast, and it was interesting seeing it portrayed. That element of the book was exactly what I wanted when I chose this book. The investigation is run in real time, so as soon as Poppy has new information, she shares it with her listeners and each new revelation usually coincides with a new memory/perspective for the sisters.

This podcast, and the reaction to it, is a clear look at what our internet personas have become, how desensitized to human suffering, hungry for the next THING to go in on. Poppy and her followers are out for blood and they don’t care who’s lives they destroy in the process.

As far as the Buhrman family is concerned I can only imagine that this would be a horrible way to find out that someone is digging into a family scandal. Just when you’ve managed to find some measure closure and peace of mind, the hurt is brought to the surface.

 

 

Noteably, Josie begins questioning what she knows to be true very early on which could only mean that on some level she’s always felt that something was missing. This sense of hidden deception is central to the plot and carries on throughout the entire book. It is the thread that holds the story together.

 

She’s going to be just as dead if I’m there as she is if I’m here

 

The quote above resonated with me. Her relationship with the ‘she’ in question was so damaged that she felt her presence was unnecessary. How sad.

 

 

 

 

My Thoughts

 

 

And then someday, maybe I would finally stop lying to the man I loved

 

 

The mystery – I had theories, well A theory, which turned out to be so close to the ACTUAL truth that I can’t share it with you. So, as far as deep mysteries go, this ain’t that. If you pay close enough attention to Poppy’s podcasts and the little snippets that Josie and Lanie’s memories give you the answer. No need to think too hard.

 

 

 

 

 

My stomach dropped as I looked from the ghost-like shell of my mother to my wild, thrashing sister. What had happened to these two women who I loved so much?

 

 

Pros –  Final Girls vibe – which I loved – where our MC tries to disasocciate with her true identity to ‘move on’ with her life, but having it all return to the public eye after several years.

It was a quick read, that kept you captivated while you’re reading. For me, I was interested in knowing what caused such a significant rift between the sisters and between Lanie and the other women in her family.

 

 

 

You have to take care of the people you love…or you lose them.

 

 

Cons – Josie had so many opportunities to tell Caleb the truth and she talked herself out of it EVERY TIME. It was INFURIATING! But when the truth finally came out, well I’ve never enjoyed a MC’s pain quite so much and I couldn’t muster up an ounce of care that she’s hurting over Caleb’s reaction. Also, this was resolved too easily, imo.

I haaaate the trope where: emotional termoil and your life ‘falling apart’ equals the female protagonist MUST CUT ALL HER HAIR OFF OR SPIN INTO THE ABYSS. It’s not a big deal, but, it irritates me.

Not enough focus on the actual case. I felt misled, because I thought I was here for a full on investigation.

 


TL;DR – If the book you’re searching for is one that is a gripping mystery that’s light on ‘other’, then this isn’t the one for you. However, if you don’t mind some light mystery solving and a lot of family drama, then pick this one up.

Amazon: 4.3

B&N: 3.9

Goodreads: 3.81

My rating: 3 stars

 

Dee ^_^

 

 

 

 

 

 

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