Title: While My Sister Sleeps
Author: Barbara Delinsky
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Audiobook from the public library
Audiobook reader: Cassandra Campbell
First line: There were days when Molly Snow loved her sister, but this wasn’t one.
Molly Snow has always lived in her sister Robin’s shadow. Robin is the star, the marathon runner who has authored books, inspired young runners, and is a celebrated speaker. Her whole family’s world revolves around Robin and Snow Hill Nursery, the family’s business. When Molly gets a call from the hospital, telling her that Robin has had yet another running accident, Molly is fed up – tired of being at Robin’s beck and call. Assuming that the accident is a sprain or something minor, she takes her time getting to the hospital – only to discover that Robin has had a massive heart attack and is in a coma.
As Molly and her family are faced with making decisions they never could have imagined, Molly reflects on her relationship with Robin, her relationship with her mother, and her place in the family. She also discovers some things about Robin she never suspected – and the family must deal with the fallout of secrets.
While My Sister Sleeps was my second experience with Barbara Delinsky’s work; the first was Not My Daughter, which I also enjoyed. She reminds me a bit of Jodi Picoult – at least the Jodi Picoult novels that I’ve enjoyed, as she’s a bit hit or miss with me. Delinsky takes authentic characters, throws them into challenging situations, and then reveals how things play out. I really enjoy reading well-written family dramas, like this one.
I had a bit of trouble with the first third of the book, as Katherine, Molly’s mother, seemed like such a horrible person. My kids would wonder who I was snarking at while doing dishes, when I kept saying things like, “What is wrong with you?” and “Horrible woman!” while I did the dishes. The character grew on me, though, as she started to take a hard look at her relationship with each of her daughters.
The interactions between Molly’s brother Chris, his wife, and his father, Charlie, were interesting, too. Charlie is a quiet man, and so, growing up, Chris had assumed that his father was not a communicator. When he incorporated that into his own marriage, he couldn’t understand his wife’s frustration. There were some great scenes between father and son as he realizes how wrong he was about his dad.
The end of this book is not a surprise, as the reader is clear from the beginning what will happen. That doesn’t matter, as the meat of the book is in watching the characters rub against each other, learn from each other, get angry at each other, forgive each other – and ultimately come to a deeper understanding of what it means to be a family.