I‘ll just get this out of the way: I really liked Are You Sleeping by Kathleen Barber. In fact, I can honestly say that I haven’t whipped through a book like this since I read Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll.
That’s saying a lot, because I read this book on my phone after receiving an advanced review copy from Netgalley. I typically don’t like to read on screens, but I couldn’t wait to find out what happened in this story.
Are You Sleeping by Kathleen Barber is intense and raw and captivating. It’s pure psychological thriller and honestly I could not put it down. I read all 252 pages of this book straight through, and never once did I want to skip parts or take a break.
Who Should Read Kathleen Barber’s Are You Sleeping?
Are You Sleeping: A NovelAre You Sleeping is a great book for people who are fans of Serial, the podcast. For those who are not familiar with Serial: It’s a regular podcast in which the host, Sarah Koenig, investigates long-solved court cases that may not have been as clear cut as originally thought. Think Making a Murderer, only in podcast format.
Are You Sleeping follows Josie, the daughter of murdered Chuck Buhrman, as the fictional podcast host re-opens Josie’s father’s murder and digs up long-buried problems for Josie and her relationships with her family. Soon after the podcast is released, Josie is forced to leave New York City and return to her home town in Illinois, where things quickly turn crazy.
Why Read Are You Sleeping By Kathleen Barber
I found Barber’s book to be phenomenal for a few simple reasons. I was impressed at the depth of her characters, and I was blown away by the complicated relationships she established throughout the story. Are You Sleeping is predicated on the podcast’s digging of the murder, but the book itself isn’t really about the podcast.
Instead, Barber creates storylines about those who are still alive at the time of the podcast’s broadcast. Barber focuses not on the information dug up by the podcast’s host, but instead on the impact the podcast has on the remaining members of Chuck Buhrman’s family. For example, Josie and her twin sister have had a difficult relationship since their father was murdered, and they’re relationship is one that readers are able to see change over the course of the book.
I liked this book because I felt like I could very easily connect with Josie as a character. Of course, I have never had the experiences that Josie had, and yet I could feel her emotions and I could understand where she was coming from. She waffled between anger and disbelief and overwhelming sadness, and all of it was understandable.
Additionally, Barber created such wonderfully rich backstories for each of the characters in the book. For example, Josie’s sister, Lanie, was the reported eyewitness of her father’s murder. It was Lanie’s testimony that put her father’s murderer in prison, but as the story wears on, it is revealed that Lanie wasn’t always sober during her teenage years. The host of the podcast casts real doubt on Lanie’s eyewitness testimony, which ultimately leads the reader to question whether Lanie’s story is really true.
Thank you to Netgalley and Simon & Schuster for the advanced review copy of Are You Sleeping? by Kathleen Barber. I was provided this book for free in exchange for my honest review.