Review: The Sleepwalker

January 11, 2017 book review, Chris Bohjalian, Doubleday, family, fiction 10

  • Written by: Chris Bohjalian
  • Published by:  Doubleday Books, January 10, 2017
  • Length:  284 pages
  • Source:  E galley via Net Galley with publishers permission

I was given early access to this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest and fair review.  This in no way impacts my review.  I was not paid.


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. (from publisher)

My Thoughts:

Once again Chris Bohjalian has woven a story that held my attention so tightly.  More than just a story about sleepwalking, and more than a story of a missing woman, let me explain.

The Sleepwalker is told in the voice of Lianna Ahlberg, twenty one year old daughter of Annalee who has gone missing.  Lianna is telling the story from present day, looking back to the event in the late summer of 2000.  What she tells us is account of a daughter struggling to adjust to first a missing mother, and the inevitable realization that she is likely dead, yet unfound.  Lianna is attempting to be the glue that her mother was to their family.  She has no idea how to care for her father and young sister, Paige.  She does the basics, cleans, tries to have meals, but in her alone time she mentally searches for answers, and then she begins to talk to more people her mother knew.  She is also drawn to the detective, Gavin, who is also attracted to her.  Something maternal in my head keeps saying “no, no, be careful”, but Lianna has a mind of her own.

The secrets are always the things that cause the most trouble, this is what I keep seeing in this book.  Virtually everyone in this book is keeping a secret, and while Lianna is not exempt, I admire her sense of something being off, something being wrong.

Like many books that I love this one ends in dramatic fashion and no I didn’t see it coming.  Were there clues or hints I missed?  Mostly there were secrets I didn’t unearth and that Mr. Bohjalian oh so perfectly kept me hanging on til the very last page.  Grab this book up, yes you will learn more about parasomnia than you do today, but you will be completely hooked and entertained by the words of a brilliant storyteller.

I had the pleasure of hearing Chris speak Tuesday evening in Neptune Beach FL, at The BookMark bookstore.  A tiny lovely indie bookstore.  Don’t miss it if you’re in the Jacksonville area.

10 Responses to “Review: The Sleepwalker”

  1. sarahsbookshelvesblog

    So cool you got to meet Mr. Bohjalian!! He seems so friendly on Twitter.

  2. Rhonda

    Loved seeing your picture with Chris ,he contacted me to thank me for giving the book 5 stars .Really sweet man.

    • Anita

      Chris is a gentleman, he is humble and appreciates all the kind reviews for his work. Thanks so much Rhonda

  3. Anita

    How fun for you, Anita! And great of you to support an independent book store.
    Your review paints a good read! I hope his book is successful.
    Happy New Year!

    • Anita

      Hello Anita! I love a good Indie book store, and wish there were more! Happy New Year to you too!

  4. Michelle

    I loved your picture with him! I agree that the ending took me by surprise. I was so absorbed in the story that I missed the clues along the way. I love when that happens!

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