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When She Sleeps

When She Sleeps

5.0 11
by Leora Krygier

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Teenage sisters, worlds apart, meet in the world of their dreams.


Teenage sisters, worlds apart, meet in the world of their dreams.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Krygier's second novel brings together two half-sisters: Lucy, born to a surgeon named Aaron and his Californian wife, Evelyn; and Mai, born to Aaron and Linh, a Vietnamese linguist he met while working in Vietnam during the war. Through Linh's dreams, Mai learns about the relationship between her father and mother-and about the half-sister she has never known. When Mai is found by her father, she travels with him to California to meet his family. This novel is hard to encapsulate owing to its fragmented structure, but it uses the dualities of light and dark, dreaming and waking, and East and West to remarkable ends. The horror and disruption of war, never discussed directly, are instead made evident in the actions and interactions of the characters. A good literary look at the Vietnam War, this brings together the Vietnamese and the American perspective through the lens of divided families; given its approach, women may enjoy it more than men. For libraries where there is an interest in literary perceptions of war.-Amy Ford, St. Mary's Cty. Lib., Lexington Park, MD Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Elegant if a bit lugubrious story of the odd reunion of a Vietnam vet with his Amerasian daughter. One of the more enduring legacies of the war in Vietnam are the con lai-half-breed children of American GIs and Vietnamese women. Fifteen-year-old Mai is one of these. Her father, Aaron, was a US Army surgeon who did several tours of duty in Southeast Asia in the early '60s, while her mother, Linh, was the daughter of a rich and prominent Vietnamese family. Life for the con lai was difficult in the best of times, but it becomes especially hard with the fall of Saigon and the advent of a communist regime that is both anti-bourgeois and anti-American. After enduring a succession of refugee camps and "reeducation" centers, Linh and Mai emigrate to Paris, where they are taken in by relatives. Mai adjusts well to Paris at first, but after Linh sinks into depression and eventually disappears, Mai becomes an insomniac. Meanwhile, Aaron, who's been living unhappily in Los Angeles with Evelyn and their daughter Lucy, begins searching for Linh and Mai and locates them in Paris. Now a distinguished specialist in sleep disorders, Aaron brings Mai to LA for treatment and introduces her to his family. Evelyn is understandably upset and wants nothing to do with Mai, and Lucy finds the situation difficult to acknowledge as well. Told alternately from the perspectives of Lucy and Mai, Second-novelist Krygier (First the Raven, not reviewed) portrays the tentative steps by which two young women discover and come to terms with their identities and adjust their perceptions of the world and themselves. Very flat, though: The author concentrates so thoroughly on the interior world of her two protagonists that it'sdifficult to see them as real characters moving through real situations. Agent: Robbie Anna Hare/Goldfarb & Associates

Product Details

CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.49(d)

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When She Sleeps 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
East and West, dark and light, mental anguish and psychological survival, dreams and sleep told in language that both sings and paints, carry this story of two-half sisters, a world apart, from the murky fog of memory, both stolen and real, into the light of wakefulness and truth. For me, the best kind of writing is strong and delicate, and allows the reader to discover the story with all its nuances, meanings and metaphors. Krygier¿s writing employs this kind of delicate strength as her characters deal with the aftermath of the Vietnam War and illustrate how it became part of our American DNA. When She Sleeps, by Leora Krygier, is a must-read for all people who savor language, read with depth and enjoy the discovery of a new favorite author.
Guest More than 1 year ago
`WHEN SHE SLEEPS¿ IS A DREAM OF A BOOK This is no ordinary novel. After only a few haunting pages, I jotted down: The author¿s words hover between heaven and earth. They are flesh and spirit. This book soars on gossamer wings. It is the language that separates this book from many another novel as well. Leora Krygier obviously loves language and chooses her words carefully. She writes with surgical precision and poetic sensibility. She cuts away to the clean, clear, economic essence of things. Krygier provides fascinating cultural glimpses of Vietnam, past and present, including myths and legends, as they bear on this story. As the narrative shifts to Paris, the author gives us an informed, tangible sense of the city¿s significant, applicable details. Los Angeles and its surroundings, too, come vividly alive, observed, selectively, with keen insight and fine descriptive powers. ¿When She Sleeps¿ is a gem of writing, story-telling and human insight. It¿s about damaged lives. It¿s about secrets and suffering. It¿s about abandonment and betrayal. It¿s about the presence and absence, the distortions and aberrations of love. It¿s about coping. It¿s about despair and hope. It¿s a profoundly moving story. Rolf Gompertz Author of ¿Abraham, The Dreamer, An Erotic and Sacred Love Story¿
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is a must read for anyone interested in the AmerAsian experience. It also has a subplot or theme regarding the holocaust. I like to take something away from a book after I've turned the last page.This book fills the bill.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Bewitching in its spare lyricism, this book reads like a dream come alive. I fell in love with these two teenage girls who are on the brink of adulthood. Both exasperating and endearing, they face the cruel legacy of the Vietnam War and the reality of their sisterhood, each in their own way. What their parents wrought, is now theirs to untangle, and they do so with misstep and dignity.
JackieHirtz More than 1 year ago
Leora Krygier's book is simply the best guide for teens and their parents should they encounter juvenile court (or wish to avoid it by learning to make good choices over bad ones). This reference book is presented in an easy to read style that is informative, engaging, and all-encompassing. Juvenile Court: A Judge's Guide for Young Adults and Their Parents belongs in every school library, school counselor's office, and all venues serving today's youth.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Krygier weaves the enchanted world of Vietnam and the asphalt streets and privileged hillside homes of LA into an intricate story. When She Sleeps is as much about language and how we are shaped by it as it is about two girls in different parts of the world who are attached genetically to one another but who have no knowledge of the other¿s existence. Out of neglect and destitution, the child of war-stricken Saigon takes to living her Vietnamese mother¿s life through the fragile woman¿s dreams; the American daughter of a doctor in Los Angeles¿ San Fernando Valley finds little sleep and when she does, it is troubled. It is great reading--the kind that haunts you long after you've turned the last page.
Guest More than 1 year ago
At the end of 'The Interpretation of Dreams', Freud concludes that our dreams give us knowledge of our past, from which they are derived. They also foretell our future because they are our wishes, which we picture as fulfilled dreams. Dreams merge our past with our present and future. They are the portals to our souls. In 'When She Sleeps', Leora Krygier explores the world of dreams. She uses the dreamscape as a vehicle to unite her main characters. In this beautifully written novel the author tells the story of two teenage sisters, separated by war and culture, who journey toward each other through their dreams. The novel begins with Mai¿s story, one of loss and regret. After living in poverty in the Vietnam countryside, the Amerasian teenager returns to the ruined city of Saigon with her mother Linh and her grandmother Thanh. Once in the city, Linh asks a reluctant Mai to promise never to call her mother again. Linh, a linguist, understands the power of words, and she no longer wishes to assume the responsibility the word ¿mother¿ implies. To Mai this is just another theft in a long line of thefts. The Vietnam War has stolen both her father and home from her, and now she has also lost her mother. In an attempt to heal herself, Mai searches for her father, who in the chaos of the American evacuation left her and her mother behind, promising to return. Not finding her father on the streets of Saigon or even at the hotel where her parents used to meet, she enters her mother¿s dreams. By invading and stealing these dreams, the lonely teenager attempts to know her mad mother and discover her absent father. Finally, she reaches out to her American sister. Lucy, the American sister, lives a life filled with middle class comfort that is at first glance the opposite of Mai¿s, but she is also lonely and unable to sleep in a house filled with her parent¿s discontent. She escapes at first into her darkroom where she experiments with the images she has captured with her camera. Soon she will learn to sleep, and in her dreamscape she will discover new images, some sent to her by her sister and others part of her mother¿s past. Eventually the sisters meet when Mai finally arrives in L.A. They have come full circle. Now it is the younger sister who, having lost her mother has also lost her ability to sleep and dream. In the meantime, Lucy has rediscovered both her mother and her dreams. I found it interesting that Mai was not cured of her sleeplessness by her father, now a prominent sleep expert, but by Evelyn, his wife. Evelyn betrayed by her husband¿s infidelity and the knowledge that he had wanted to abandon her and Lucy for Linh and Mai, transcends this to become the mother Mai needs. She returns Mai¿s dreams to her with care and understanding. 'When She Sleeps' is a masterful story of love, betrayal, and forgiveness that holds the reader¿s attention until the very end. The characters are three-dimensional beings that we can pity, sympathize with, like or dislike. Their lives matter to us, and that is the sign of a well-crafted tale.
Guest More than 1 year ago
WHEN SHE SLEEPS is, at the same time, both an astonishingly beautiful and an emotionally haunting book. Leora Krygier weaves passages in her novel from individual words in ways that an artist weaves a tapestry from individual silken threads. Leora expertly delves into the psyches of people affected by the Vietnam War within three countries: the United States, Vietnam, and France. She also portrays the pain of several characters affected by World War II and the holocaust. Leora creates a clear picture - with broad brush strokes and minute details - of how war entangles people's hearts and souls and minds and distorts their philosophies. She binds characters to each other in ways that people truly bind themselves to each other - for better or for worse - when they become intimately involved. She shows how family can develop on two sides of an ocean when a man fathers one child with his wife in the United States and another child with a lover in Vietnam. She tells the story of how this leads, really, to one family tied together by history, genetic similarities, and yearning. As all great books do, WHEN SHE SLEEPS transcends the individual story created within this novel. It shows, with stark naked exposure, how people react to pain and loss and dysfunction within the multiple contexts of family, country, and culture. WHEN SHE SLEEPS has all the makings of a classic.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have just finished reading When She Sleeps and am astounded by the purity of this creation. How was the author able to understand the feelings of a polio survivor, and then put the words together to capture the essence and the emotions accompanying it better than me, someone who had polio? She is truly a gifted storyteller. I have read many books over the years written by Vietnamese women. This is the first one that really makes you smell the scents and feel as if you are eating the food, seeing the trees of this remarkable country. I felt a connection to each character. When She Sleeps is a masterpiece. When I finished the book I sobbed, unable to speak.
Guest More than 1 year ago
We often hear of the macro consequences of the Vietnam War, but rarely get a glimpse, as we do here, into the micro or the personal. In this brilliant new novel, Leora Krygier transports the reader into the hearts and minds ¿ both conscious and subconscious ¿ of an American family and a Vietnamese family in 1977 as they live with and live through the consequences of war. The language is rich with symbols, metaphors and cinematic descriptions that enhance the story, allowing the reader to see and hear what they are reading. When She Sleeps is a beautifully crafted novel, with each diverse character a story unto his or her self. I couldn¿t put this book down; it kept me awake all night. I recommend When She Sleeps for people of all ages, from mid-teens on up. It is the best book I¿ve read this year.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A beautiful book. This novel of two half-sisters, children of the Vietnam war, struggling to find each other, pulled me into their lives from the the first page to the last. Krygier has a perfect sense of place, relationships, and emotions. I could hear the noises and smell the smells of Saigon, Thailand, Paris, and Los Angeles, while I lived the girls' journey. Read it and give it to someone you love.