While My Sister Sleeps

( 96 )

Overview

Molly and Robin Snow are sisters, and like all sisters they share a deep bond that sustains them through good times and bad. Their careers are flourishing–Molly is a horticulturist and Robin is a world-class runner–and they are in the prime of their lives. So when Molly receives the news that Robin has suffered a massive heart attack, she couldn’t be more shocked. At the hospital, the Snow family receives a grim prognosis: Robin may never regain consciousness.

As Robin’s parents...

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Overview

Molly and Robin Snow are sisters, and like all sisters they share a deep bond that sustains them through good times and bad. Their careers are flourishing–Molly is a horticulturist and Robin is a world-class runner–and they are in the prime of their lives. So when Molly receives the news that Robin has suffered a massive heart attack, she couldn’t be more shocked. At the hospital, the Snow family receives a grim prognosis: Robin may never regain consciousness.

As Robin’s parents and siblings struggle to cope, the complex nature of their relationship is put to the ultimate test. Molly has always lived in Robin’s shadow, and her feelings for her have run the gamut, from love to resentment and back. The last time they spoke, they argued. But now there is so much more at stake. Molly’s parents fold under the devastating circumstances, and her brother retreats into the cool reserve that is shattering his own family. It’s up to Molly to make the tough decisions, and she soon makes discoveries that destroy some of her most cherished beliefs about the sister she thought she knew.

From the Compact Disc edition.

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  • While My Sister Sleeps
    While My Sister Sleeps  

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Delinsky flounders on her latest, a chronicle of how a family deals with a tragedy that befalls its favorite daughter. An Olympic marathon contender, self-centered Robin Snow often rubs her younger sister, Molly, the wrong way. After many years in her sister's shadow, Molly takes out her resentment with petty actions, such as refusing to accompany Robin on a run. Fatefully, Robin has a heart attack while training and falls into a coma. As Robin's condition fails to improve, Delinsky digs tediously into the family's woes: Molly's touchy relationship with Robin's ambitious reporter ex-boyfriend; middle son Chris's dealings with a would-be blackmailer; mother Kathryn's trouble coming to terms with Robin's dire prognosis. Delinsky litters the narrative with momentum-crippling scene-setting minutiae, and the Snow family, while theatrically intense in their interactions, make for flat characters. Delinsky is adept as portraying angst, but her story would have greatly benefited from a tighter telling and more complex characters. (Feb.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Library Journal

Molly Snow isn't worried when she gets a phone call notifying her that her sister is in the ER. A world-class runner, 32-year-old Robin Snow has had many injuries, and Molly arrives at the hospital expecting nothing worse than an ankle sprain. But Robin has had a massive heart attack while running, and the prognosis is not good. As the devastated Snow family holds a bedside vigil, they learn things about Robin that alternately surprise and distress them. Graced by characters readers will come to care about, this is that rare book that deserves to have the phrase "impossible to put down" attached to it. Delinsky (The Secret Between Us) does a wonderful and realistic job portraying family dynamics; the relationship between Molly and Robin, in particular, is spot-on. This touching and heartbreaking novel is highly recommended for public libraries where women's fiction is popular. Readers of Kristin Hannah and Patricia Gaffney will enjoy it.
—Elizabeth Mellett

Kirkus Reviews
Delinsky (The Secret Between Us, 2008, etc.), mining the same emotional field as Jodi Picoult, stumbles in this slow-moving account of two sisters, one of whom is in a coma. The Snow family defines itself thus: They are the family of a runner. Robin is a marathoner of Olympic potential (the tryouts are soon) and much of her adult life has been working toward this moment. She is the star, and her mother Kathryn and sister Molly have devoted a good portion of their lives to making Robin's easier. Though Molly experiences intense bouts of jealousy and sadness that Robin is so clearly the favorite daughter, she nonetheless adores her older sister. One evening there is a call from the hospital to the house Molly and Robin share. The news is dire. At the hospital Molly finds Robin unconscious from a heart attack. A fellow runner found her cold body on the road, administered CPR and called an ambulance, but his act of kindness has inadvertently caused the Snow family's most heartbreaking dilemma. Tests show that Robin is brain-dead, but Kathryn refuses to accept that her daughter, a lifelong fighter, is defeated. Molly too is crushed, but instead of a bedside vigil, she wants answers. She finds Robin's journal and soon all secrets are revealed: Robin was diagnosed with an enlarged heart, which she inherited from her real father (Kathryn was pregnant when she met Charlie, but he raised her as his own). There are a number of subplots: Molly begins to develop a relationship with David, the runner who found Robin; David, a high-school teacher, suspects one of his students is anorexic; brother Chris is being blackmailed by an employee Molly fired from the family's nursery. Yet none ofthis is able to spark the narrative to life-a week of tears and hard decisions about organ donation and ending life support is certainly emotionally fertile, but in Delinsky's hands it feels overwrought and predictable. The novel's foregone conclusion does little to help a narrow plotline to expand. Eight-city author tour in South/Midwest. Agent: Amy Berkower/Writers House
From the Publisher
PRAISE FOR WHILE MY SISTER SLEEPS

“Fast-paced entertainment… In her new family drama, Delinsky examines the roles people unconsciously play in families and how a mother’s single-minded passion to have one child fulfill a dream can create resentment in the other siblings.” —USA Today

From LIBRARY JOURNAL

Molly Snow isn't worried when she gets a phone call notifying her that her sister is in the ER. A world-class runner, 32-year-old Robin Snow has had many injuries, and Molly arrives at the hospital expecting nothing worse than an ankle sprain. But Robin has had a massive heart attack while running, and the prognosis is not good. As the devastated Snow family holds a bedside vigil, they learn things about Robin that alternately surprise and distress them. Graced by characters readers will come to care about, this is that rare book that deserves to have the phrase "impossible to put down" attached to it. Delinsky (The Secret Between Us) does a wonderful and realistic job portraying family dynamics; the relationship between Molly and Robin, in particular, is spot-on. This touching and heartbreaking novel is highly recommended for public libraries where women's fiction is popular. Readers of Kristin Hannah and Patricia Gaffney will enjoy it.

From BOOKLIST

The Snow family faces a devastating crisis when oldest daughter Robin, a runner training for the Olympics, suffers a catastrophic heart attack. Molly, Robin’s younger sister, gets the call from the hospital and is immediately guilt-stricken: she was supposed to accompany Robin on her run. When Molly, her older brother, Chris, and her parents, Kathryn and Charlie, gather at the hospital, they learn that Robin is in a coma and might be brain dead. While Kathryn refuses to believe the worst, Molly reaches out to David, the handsome teacher who found Robin after the heart attack, and tries to determine whether Nick, a charming reporter who once dated Robin briefly, is truly concerned about the family or just pursuing a big story. The Snows try to come to grips with the reality that Robin might never wake up, and Molly, attempting to discern what Robin would want, stumbles across Robin’s diaries and learns some startling family secrets... Delinsky’s popularity should ensure demand for this engaging exploration of every family’s worst nightmare.

PRAISE FOR BARBARA DELINSKY’S PREVIOUS NOVELS

“Engrossing reading.” —People

Family Tree is warm, rich, textured and impossible to put down.” —Nora Roberts

“Absorbing, unpredictable storytelling—a winning combination.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

From the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780767928953
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 10/27/2009
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 633,935
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Barbara Delinsky
Barbara Delinsky is a New York Times bestselling author with over thirty million copies of her books in print. She lives with her family in New England.

Biography

Born Ruth Greenberg, and raised in suburban Boston, Barbara Delinsky worked as a sociology researcher in children's services and was a newspaper photographer and reporter before turning to fiction writing full-time. In point of fact, she never intended to pursue a literary career. But, in the early 1980s, a newspaper article profiling three women who successfully balanced home, family, and romance writing caught her attention. Intrigued, she spent months researching and writing her first novel. It sold -- and Delinsky was off and running.

Praised by critics and fans alike for her character driven studies of marriage, parenthood, and friendship, Delinsky is one of a small cadre of successful women writers (including Nora Roberts and Sandra Brown) who started out writing pseudonymous paperbacks for the category romance genre and muscled their way onto the bestseller lists with hardcover escapist fiction. Yet she is candid about the hard work involved and insists there's no tried-and-true formula that converts automatically to easy money. As if to prove her own point, Delinsky works from eight in the morning to about seven at night, writing in the office above the garage in her Newton, Massachusetts home; doing research; handling interviews; or -- her least favorite part of the job -- touring the country making author appearances.

Over the decades Delinsky has written dozens of novels that have landed on The New York Times bestseller list, including Twilight Whispers (1988), For My Daughters (1994), Three Wishes (1997), Flirting with Pete (2003), and Family Tree (2007). In 2001, she published her first nonfiction title, Uplift: Secrets from the Sisterhood of Breast Cancer Survivors. A cancer survivor herself, she has earmarked all the profits from the sale of this book to benefit breast cancer research.

Good To Know

When she isn't writing, one of Delinsky's favorite pastimes is kayaking.

She gets some of her best ideas in the shower. "It's a little harder to write ideas down there," she wrote to fans on her web site, "but I've been known to yell something out to my husband, who does it for me!"

The family cat, Chelsea, is named after her 1992 novel The Passions of Chelsea Kane.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Billie Douglass, Bonnie Drake; born Ruth Greenberg
    2. Hometown:
      Newton, Massachusetts
    1. Date of Birth:
      August 9, 1945
    2. Place of Birth:
      Boston, Massachusetts
    1. Education:
      B.A. in Psychology, Tufts University, 1967; M.A. in Sociology, Boston College, 1969

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

There were days when Molly Snow loved her sister, but this wasn't one. She had risen at dawn to be Robin's water-bearer, only to learn that Robin had changed her mind and decided to do her long run in the late afternoon, fully expecting Molly to accommodate her.

And why not? Robin was a world-class runner—a marathoner with a dozen wins under her belt, incredible stats, and a serious shot at making the Olympics. She was used to people changing their plans to suit hers. She was the star.

Resenting that for the millionth time, Molly said no to late afternoon and, though Robin followed her from bedroom to bathroom and back, refused to give in. Robin could have easily run that morning; she just wanted to have breakfast with a friend. And wouldn't Molly love to do that herself! But she couldn't, because her day was backed up with work. She had to be at Snow Hill at seven to tend to the greenhouse before customers arrived, had to do purchasing, track inventory and sales, preorder for the holiday season; and on top of her own chores, she had to cover for her parents, who were on the road. That meant handling any issues that arose and, worse, leading a management meeting—not Molly's idea of fun.

Her mother wouldn't be pleased that she had let Robin down, but Molly was feeling too put-upon to care.

The good news was that if Robin went running late in the day, she would be out when Molly got home. So, with the sun bronzing her face through the open windows, Molly mellowed as she drove back from Snow Hill. She pulled mail from the roadside box, without asking herself why her sister never did it, and swung in to crunch down the dirt drive. The roses were a soft peach, their fragrance all the more precious for the short life they had left. Beyond were the hydrangeas she had planted, turned a gorgeous blue by a touch of aluminum, a sprinkling of coffee grounds, and lots of TLC.

Pulling up under the pin oak that shaded the cottage she and Robin had rented for the past two years but were about to lose, Molly opened the back of the Jeep and began to unload. She was nearly at the house, juggling a drooping split-leaf philodendron, a basket of gourds, and a cat carrier, when her cell phone rang.

She could just hear it. I'm sorry for yelling this morning, Molly, but where are you now? My car won't start, I'm in the middle of nowhere, and I'm beat.

Molly was shifting burdens to free up a key when the phone rang again. A third ring came as she knelt to put her load down just inside the door. That was when guilt set in. Seconds shy of voice mail, she pulled the phone from her jeans and flipped it open.

"Where are you?" she asked, but the voice at the other end wasn't Robin's.

"Is this Molly?"

"Yes."

"I'm a nursing supervisor at Dickenson-May Memorial. There's been an accident. Your sister is in the ER. We'd like you to come."

"A car accident?" Molly asked in alarm.

"A running accident."

Molly hung her head. Another one of those. Oh, Robin, she thought and peered into the carrier, more worried about the little amber cat huddled inside than about her sister. Robin was a chronic daredevil. She claimed the reward was worth it, but the price? A broken arm, dislocated shoulder, ankle sprains, fasciitis, neuroma—you name it, she'd had it. This small cat, on the other hand, was an innocent victim.

"What happened?" Molly asked distractedly, making little sounds to coax the cat out.

"The doctor will explain. Do you live far?"

No, not far. But experience had taught her that she would only have to wait for X-rays, even longer for an MRI. Reaching into the carrier, she gently drew out the cat. "I'm ten minutes away. How serious is it?"

"I can't tell you. But we do need you here."

The cat was shaking badly. She had been found locked in a shed with ten other cats. The vet guessed she was barely two.

"My sister has her phone with her," Molly tried, knowing that if she could talk directly with Robin, she would learn more. "Does she have cell reception?"

"No. I'm sorry. Your parents' number is here with yours on her shoe tag. Will you call them, or should I?"

If the nurse was holding the shoe, the shoe was off Robin's foot. A ruptured Achilles tendon? That would be bad. Worried in spite of herself, Molly said, "They're out of state." She tried humor. "I'm a big girl. I can take it. Give me a hint?"

But the nurse was immune to charm. "The doctor will explain. Will you come?"

Did she have a choice?

Resigned, Molly cradled the cat and carried it to her bedroom at the back of the cottage. After nesting it in the folds of the comforter, she put litter and food nearby, and then sat on the edge of the bed. She knew it was dumb bringing an animal here when they had to move out in a week, but her mother refused to let another cat live at the nursery, and this one needed a home. The vet had kept her for several days, but she hadn't done well with the other animals. She wasn't only malnourished; she looked like she had been at the losing end of more than one fight. Her little body was poised, as if she expected another blow.

"I won't hurt you," Molly whispered assuredly and, giving the cat space, returned to the hall. She trickled water on the philodendron—too much too soon would only drain through—then took it to the loft and set it out of direct light. It, too, needed TLC. But later.

First, a shower. It would have to be a quick one—she could put off the hospital only so long. But the greenhouse was hot in September, and after a major delivery of fall plants, she had spent much of the afternoon breaking down crates, moving pots, reorganizing displays, and sweating.

The shower cleared her mind. Back in her room to dress, though, she couldn't find the cat. Calling softly, she looked under the bed, in the open closet, behind a stack of cartons. She checked Robin's room, the small living room, even the basket of gourds—which was one more thing to pack, but it filled an aesthetic need and could easily hide a small cat.

She would have looked further, if her conscience hadn't begun to nag. Robin was in good hands at the hospital, but with their parents somewhere between Atlanta and Manchester, and with her own name first on that tag, Molly had to make tracks.

Letting her long hair curl as it dried, she put on clean jeans and a tee. Then Molly drove off with the cell in her lap, fully expecting that Robin would call. She would be resilient and sheepish—unless it truly was an Achilles rupture, which would mean surgery and weeks of no running. They were all in trouble if that was the case. An unhappy Robin was a misery, and the timing of this accident couldn't be worse. Today's fifteen-miler was a lead-up to the New York marathon. If she placed among the top ten American women there, she would be guaranteed a spot at the Olympic trials in the spring.

The phone didn't ring. Molly wasn't sure if that was good or bad, but she didn't see the point of leaving a message for her mother until she knew more. Kathryn and Robin were joined at the hip. If Robin had an in-grown toenail, Kathryn felt the pain.

It was lovely to be loved that way, Molly groused and, in the next breath, felt remorse. Robin had worked hard to get where she was. And hey, Molly was as proud of her as the rest on race day.

It just seemed like running monopolized all their lives.

Resentment to remorse and back was such a boringly endless cycle that Molly was glad to pull up at the hospital. Dickenson-May sat on a bluff overlooking the Connecticut River just north of town. The setting would have been charming if not for the reasons that brought people here.

Hurrying inside, Molly gave her name to the ER desk attendant and added, "My sister is here."

A nurse approached and gestured her to a cubicle at the end of the hall, where she fully expected to see Robin grinning at her from a gurney. What she saw, though, were doctors and machines, and what she heard wasn't her sister's embarrassed, Oh, Molly, I did it again, but the murmur of somber voices and the rhythmic beep of machines. Molly saw bare feet—callused, definitely Robin's—but nothing else of her sister. For the first time, she felt a qualm.

One of the doctors came over. He was a tall man who wore large, black-framed glasses. "Are you her sister?"

"Yes." Through the space he had vacated, she caught a glimpse of Robin's head—short dark hair messed as usual, but her eyes were closed, and a tube was taped over her mouth. Alarmed, Molly whispered, "What happened?"

"Your sister had a heart attack."

She recoiled. "A what?"

"She was found unconscious on the road by another runner. He knew enough to start CPR."

"Unconscious? But she came to, didn't she?" She didn't have to be unconscious. Her eyes might be closed out of sheer exhaustion. Running fifteen miles could do that.

"No, she hasn't come to yet," said the doctor. "We pulled up hospital records on her, but there's no mention of a heart problem."

"Because there isn't one," Molly said and, slipping past him, went to the bed. "Robin?" When her sister didn't reply, she eyed the tube. It wasn't the only worrisome thing.

"The tube connects to a ventilator," the doctor explained. "These wires connect to electrodes that measure her heartbeat. The cuff takes her blood pressure. The IV is for fluids and meds."

So much, so soon? Molly gave Robin's shoulder a cautious shake. "Robin? Can you hear me?"

Robin's eyelids remained flat. Her skin was colorless.

Molly grew more frightened. "Maybe she was hit by a car?" she asked the doctor, because that made more sense than Robin having a heart attack at the age of thirty-two.

"There's no other injury. When we did a chest X-ray to check on the breathing tube, we could see heart damage. Right now, the beat is normal."

"But why is she still unconscious? Is she sedated?"

"No. She hasn't regained consciousness."

"Then you're not trying hard enough," Molly decided and gave her sister's arm a frantic jiggle. "Robin? Wake up!"

A large hand stilled hers. Quietly, the doctor said, "We suspect there's brain damage. She's unresponsive. Her pupils don't react to light. She doesn't respond to voice commands. Tickle her toe, prick her leg—there's no reaction."

"She can't have brain damage," Molly said—perhaps absurdly, but the whole scene was absurd. "She's in training." When the doctor didn't reply, she turned to her sister again. The machines were blinking and beeping with the regularity of, yes, machines, but they were unreal. "Heart or brain—which one?"

"Both. Her heart stopped pumping. We don't know how long she was lying on the road before she was found. A healthy thirty-something might have ten minutes before the lack of oxygen would cause brain damage. Do you know what time she started her run?"

"She was planning to start around five, but I don't know whether she made it by then." You should have known, Molly. You would have known if you'd driven her yourself. "Where was she found?"

The doctor checked his papers. "Just past Norwich. That would put her a little more than five miles from here."

But coming or going? It made a difference if they were trying to gauge how long she had been unconscious. The location of her car would tell, but Molly didn't know where it was. "Who found her?"

"I can't give you his name, but he's likely the reason she's alive right now."

Starting to panic, Molly held her forehead. "She could wake up and be fine, right?"

The doctor hesitated seconds too long. "She could. The next day or two are crucial. Have you called your parents?"

Her parents. Nightmare. She checked her watch. They wouldn't have landed yet. "My mom will be devastated. Can't you do something before I call them?"

"We want her stabilized before we move her."

"Move her where?" Molly asked. She had a flash shot of the morgue. Too much CSI.

"The ICU. She'll be watched closely there."

Molly's imagination was stuck on the other image. "She isn't going to die, is she?" If Robin died, it would be Molly's fault. If she had been there, this wouldn't have happened. If she hadn't been such a rotten sister, Robin would be back at the cottage, swigging water and recording her times.

"Let's take it step by step," the doctor said. "First, stabilization. Beyond that, it's really a question of waiting. There's no husband listed on her tag. Does she have kids?"

"No."

"Well, that's something."

"It's not." Molly was desperate. "You don't understand. I can't tell my mother Robin is lying here like this." Kathryn would blame her. Instantly. Even before she knew that it truly was Molly's fault. It had always been that way. In her mother's eyes, Molly was five years younger and ten times more troublesome than Robin.

Molly had tried to change that. She had grown up helping Kathryn in the greenhouse, taking on more responsibility as Snow Hill grew. She had worked there summers while Robin trained, and had gotten the degree in horticulture that Kathryn had sworn would stand her in good stead.

Working at Snow Hill wasn't a hardship. Molly loved plants. But she also loved pleasing her mother, which wasn't always an easy thing to do, because Molly was impulsive. She spoke without thinking, often saying things her mother didn't want to hear. And she hated pandering to Robin. That was her greatest crime of all.

Now the doctor wanted her to call Kathryn and tell her that Robin might have brain damage because she, Molly, hadn't been there for her sister?

It was too much to ask of her, Molly decided. After all, she wasn't the only one in the family.

While the doctor waited expectantly, she pulled out her phone. "I want my brother here. He has to help."

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Introduction

"Delinsky is a first-rate storyteller who creates believable, sympathetic characters who seem as familiar as your neighbors." —The Boston Globe

The introduction, questions, and suggestions for further reading that follow are designed to enhance your group's discussion of Barbara Delinsky's deeply moving novel While My Sister Sleeps. Raising provocative questions about family ties, repercussions of the past, and the toughest choices a parent could ever have to make, While My Sister Sleeps is a novel that will give you much to discuss.

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Foreword

1. How would you characterize the relationship among Robin, Molly, and Chris? Does Chris play a different role because he is a son? How does the Snow family compare to yours?

2. How is Molly transformed during the week after Robin's heart attack? What does Molly discover about herself and about the range of emotions she and her sister evoked in each other?

3. What is at the root of Kathryn's controlling behavior? How did her past, including her experience with her own parents and her art teacher, influence her personality? Who has more power in the marriage: Kathryn or Charlie?

4. Discuss Snow Hill and what it means to Molly's family. What makes the Snows good at nurturing plants but not as good at nurturing one another? What kinds of healing does Molly experience through her work at Snow Hill?

5. What do Charlie's religious beliefs say about him and about the differences between him and the other members of his family?

6. As parents, what family memories do Chris and Erin create for their daughter, Chloe? How does their approach to parenting compare to Charlie and Kathryn's?

7. How does Alexis's illness shape the novel's storyline? What parallels exist between her situation and Kathryn's state of denial?

8. How much is Nick entitled to know, as a reporter and as a friend of Robin's? Is Robin entitled to less privacy because she is a public figure, with a wide circle of fans who are concerned about her?

9. What determines whether Liz will be a threat to Chris's marriage? How is Liz's role in the novel different from Peter's? How much does the past matter in a marriage, especially events that took place before the wedding?

10.What was it like to read Robin's journal after hearing so much about her? Captured in her own words, how does her life compare to other people's impressions of her?

11. What does Kathryn have to do in order to let go? What does it take to help her see the truth about her circumstances—and Robin's?

12. How is Marjorie's family affected by her dementia? What do the connections among Marjorie, Kathryn, and Molly show us about mothers and daughters? What traits, emotional and otherwise, are passed from one generation to the next in While My Sister Sleeps?

13. Why is David willing to look out for Alexis? What makes him such a caring teacher? What makes him such a tough opponent against Nick?

14. Ultimately, what legacy does Robin leave for her family? What intangible gifts does Molly inherit from her sister?

15. Discuss the medical issues raised by Robin's story. Is it unethical to keep a child from knowing the identity of his or
her biological parents? How would you have handled the end-of-life-care questions raised by Robin's heart attack?

16. How do secrets affect the characters in While My Sister Sleeps and in Barbara Delinsky's other novels? When is it best to let a secret remain hidden? When is it best to reveal the truth?

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Reading Group Guide

"Delinsky is a first-rate storyteller who creates believable, sympathetic characters who seem as familiar as your neighbors." —The Boston Globe

The introduction, questions, and suggestions for further reading that follow are designed to enhance your group's discussion of Barbara Delinsky's deeply moving novel While My Sister Sleeps. Raising provocative questions about family ties, repercussions of the past, and the toughest choices a parent could ever have to make, While My Sister Sleeps is a novel that will give you much to discuss.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 96 )
Rating Distribution

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(40)

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(15)

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(10)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 96 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 12, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    While My Sister Sleeps

    I enjoyed this story on so many levels. It is a great story that shows family dynamics in calm and stressful situations.
    The book opens with us meeting the Snow sisters. Robin is the "star". A top runner, she is preparing for an Olympic trial. Molly is the "good girl" who provides support work for the family. She cleans up for Robin and works behind the scenes at the family business.
    When Robin has a heart attack, we see how the family that has revolved around her handles their beloved star being extinguished. Relationships are strained and the family has to accept and learn to cope without her and realize that their perceptions of Robin, themselves and each other need to be corrected. They need to let go of many things.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 23, 2009

    Not One of This Author's Best

    I just finished this book, and I cannot believe it is written by the same author who gave us such treasures as Coast Road and Three Wishes. What a dissapointment. I did not find the conversations that took place between the characters realistic - they made me think if I was watching this on TV it would be poorly written script. I did not like all the stories interwoven, perhaps only one interwoven story could have been done with the relationship between Nick and Molly, after he and Robin broke up. The writing style was simple at best. I love most of her books, but wish I would have borrowed this one from the library instead of purchasing it.

    7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 30, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Fans of Barbara Delinsky will enjoy this angst-laden character driven family drama

    Olympic level marathoner egotistical Robin Snow and her less athletic younger sister Molly the horticulturist do not get along for the most part though they share a sisterly bond especially when things go bad for one of them. Molly resents her older sibling¿s fame and accompanied gloating haughtiness so refuses to run with Robin as she trains. When Robin running alone suffers a heart attack that leaves her comatose, Molly feels guilty for not being there for her.<BR/><BR/>As Robin's health worsens, Molly¿s feelings of guilt rise in a negative correlation. Other family members like their brother Chris and their parents Charlie and Kathryn fail to cope with the increasingly ominous situation; Chris has a personal problem while Kathryn is in denial and Charlie turns to religion. Thus every critical decision falls on Molly¿s overly burdened shoulders as the doctor begins to believe Robin will never wake up.<BR/><BR/>Fans of Barbara Delinsky will enjoy this angst-laden character driven family drama that looks deep into relationships mostly between siblings. Although the well written story line is extremely passive (which makes sense since one of the key characters is in a coma) and at times over burdened with too much personal torment that borders on hyperbolic emoting, WHILE MY SISTER SLEEPS deeply showcases how people react differently to an unexpected health crisis. <BR/><BR/>Harriet Klausner

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 17, 2011

    excellent

    this book kept me reading all night because it deals with the universal issue of sibling rivalry in a unique and complex way.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 9, 2010

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    While My Sister Sleeps

    This book had a lot of good points to it. Don't leave without telling your loved ones I love you or a grudge, what happens when you are a doner, the love of a family, journalism, etc. I give this book two thumbs up! It was sad, but you received a lot of loving, encouraging, caring, what if's education. I'd read this book again.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 16, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Heartwarming and Beautifully Written!

    Goodness, I had thought this book sounded so good when I read about it. So I contacted the author to see if she'd be kind enough to send me a copy. I have to say that this book is the most amazing book. It's going on my list of favorite books of all time! While the premise of the story is one we've heard before, I could never have imagined the depths that it would uncover. The emotions that it evokes are complex and will have you really feeling a bit raw. All of us have wondered at one time or another how we'd handle this type of tragedy in our family, which is why I'm sure this story will resonate so strongly with everyone who reads it. The struggles this family goes through as they accept what they have to do, and then actually doing it, is heartbreaking. But Barbara Delinsky doesn't stop with just that. We get an intimate look into the relationship of daughters and mothers, and two sisters, and husbands and wives. The layers that are peeled away little by little just make the story that much more intense. It makes you wonder if you know your family as well as you think you do. I have to admit that I was in tears at more than one point in the book. This book is being released today...and my recommendation is that you run out and get it...NOW! Obviously I loved this book.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2010

    Fairly Good, but not too Original

    It was good. Very good. The synopsis and cover got me. Though it did have it's ups and downs. Let's break it down:

    The plot: it wasn't original, but since i have recently been hooked on sob stories like this; it grabbed me. But again,you do often either, hear or read a book on how the main characters' sister dies. And, it may not have been original, but it was good.

    The characters: You will fall in love with the characters, at one point or another, and that is a promise. I read the reviews on the front of the book and everyone had pointed out something similar to :"She will make you feel like the characters are your next door neighbors!" And as i read along, that hadn't been true for me. It took till the 2nd half of the book for it too kick in. I wish it had been sooner, because the characters are truly one of a kind, but still your everyday people. Some of the characters, i loved, and others i hated. But for stupid things, like Mollys' brother's wife. She was mad at him and wanted to get a divorce, because he wouldn't talk all that much. I kept thinking that she needed to get real, because that is no reason to do that and people have much better reasons to do so, than because one of them doesn't talk as much as you want. But again, that's kind of a silly thing. I doubt anyone else would be that bothered by her, that they would hate the entire book. Everyone else, i really did have a connection too, and you will as well.
    The perspective: I loved how the author kept changing the characters perspective and point of view so i could get a glimpse of each person's view on things.

    Other silly things that i LIKE: That i connected straight away with how Molly felt towards her sister. So at the same time, i had bonded with Robin as well. And i like the unexpected twist in the middle of the book.

    Other silly things that i DISLIKE: That Molly's profession was working with plants: i felt that the author went a little overboard with describing the plants because i really didn't care. And another thing: Molly's love interest. I fell in love with him as well, but the author never got farther than a good conversation between them. But in a way, i liked that as well, because i got to imagine what happened to them. And that gave the author the chance, not to go overboard,where we start to dislike both the characters; like many authors do when it comes the relationships.

    Overall, this was a moderately, well shaped book. I think i would only recommend it to someone who has a sister as well, only because there would be no connections and interest for someone who is either an only child or doesn't have a sister.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 30, 2009

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    I Also Recommend:

    Tugs at your heart strings

    While My Sister Sleeps,is a truly touching, heartbreaking story. Those of us who have siblings will be amused and touched by the dynamics and interactions of the characters, as Delkinsky mixes the dynamics of the brother and sisters. While the end is inevitable, the readers heart breaks as each characacter struggles with the decisions and effects. Definitely a tear jerker, but worth the read.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 14, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Beautifully written story of a tragedy in the life of a family

    I've been a fan of Ms. Delinsky since reading my first book of hers. While I wouldn't have chosen to read a book on this subject matter, the fact that she was the author overcame my doubts. So glad it did, as this was an extraordinary story of the love of a family during a time of crisis. Character development was wonderful.....I felt like I was an integral part of this family. It was a very sad tale, yet never written in a maudlin manner but taking the reader through a difficult journey in a sad, yet comforting manner. I very strongly recommend it to everyone.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 14, 2009

    While My Sister Sleeps

    A very touching book. It is a good one for rainy days or a lazy day in.
    Easy reading.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 25, 2010

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    I Also Recommend:

    Life Support vs. Dying with dignity

    Young, supposedly heathy runner falls unconscious on street and is taken to hospital because of a good samaritan. Younger sister who was supposed to monitor her running for a marathon race, refused to go and gets a call that her sister collapsed on the street and she must come to the hospital immediately. The younger sister calls her brother who then calls his parents who are on their way home from the airport as they'd been on a trip. Their sister is unconscious, in a coma from a massive heart attack and is possibly brain dead. How did this happen to an otherwise healthy girl? How each member of the family deals with this, what they learn about themselves and each other and how they each cope with the decision of whether to keep their sister on life support or to pull the plug makes for an awesome character study and deep involvement of the reader who is so drawn into this story. I couldn't put this book down. It was so reminiscent of the type of story that Jodi Picoult would write. I highly recommend this book. It's the book that our local library book club will be discussing this May, 2010. I am truly looking forward to that book discussion.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 3, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Loved the Story!

    I read this book in two days. I will admit that it was Spring Break and I was on the beach. It is my first novel by this author and it was a winner. The story is well written, the charcters are flawed but still likable. The story is detailed enough that you can relate to all the family drama, secrets, and misunderstandings that take place. There is a little of everything going on in this story but it reamins easy to follow. The crisis brings the family together and tears apart the foundation that thought they stood on. I highly recommend this book. It would be a great book club selection, too.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 9, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Okay

    Even though the story is based around a sister in a coma, Delinsky came up short when trying to draw an emotional reaction out of me. I love my sisters and would be in tears if this happened to one of them, but I didn't feel the heart-wrenching agony with this book. It was a good read but not a great one. I almost put it down when a twist came in the middle of the book which kept me reading and I enjoyed the change in direction from then on. I didn't like all the whining that dragged on in the first half of the book.The sisterly tension didn't need half the book to depict the friction, a couple of chapters would have suffice.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2009

    Very Moving

    This book I read for a book group which meets this Sunday. I found it a deep character study into the position of family members in a crisis situation. It gave a accurate profile of how each member reacts and has different relationship with each other. A crisis doesn't always bring out the best in people and this story was right on the mark. Should make for good discussions at my book group

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 13, 2009

    Another haunting topic wrapped into a beautiful story..

    Barbara Delinsky has shown me once again why I will always place her at the top of my favorite authors list: she is never afraid to delve into significant research to provide insight into a thought-provoking topic. With "While My Sister Sleeps" she examines the interpersonal dynamics of the Snow family and how these dynamics have been touched by the tragedy of the eldest child's accident. Through this event this seemingly close-knit family finds out that they not only do not know the daughter that lay in the hospital bed, but also each other.

    The only complaint, and a minor one at that, is that the topic of potential organ donation, if necessary, seems a little bit "forced" on one occasion. But for me that was easily overlooked for the more haunting and emotional moments.. and an overall topic that made me think of what I would do in such an event.

    Highly recommended book.. not only for those that are current fans of Ms. Delinsky. I invite anyone to examine the entire library of her works.. you will not be disappointed!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A poignant story

    While my sister sleeps is an emotional roller coater, a family in turmoil with a decision to make that no one should ever have to and as a result how this family grows as individuals and as a unit from this life changing event in their lives.
    Barbara Delinsky is a wonderful storyteller as you will see in this novel, her characters are beautifully developed and entwined expertly with each other in the book. The writing is the best I've read and the plot is intriguing and haunting. It's a story that you'll have a hard time putting down once you start. Keep the tissues handy for this one.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 7, 2010

    Excellent Book

    I wasn't sure I was going to like this book, but I found it to be a very powerful book about a timely and contemporary subject. I was sorry to reach the end of it, and it's in my permanent archives.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 10, 2010

    Esh!

    I was so bored I stopped reading this book.
    I do not have a sister,but thought it never moved and many parts of it were not of interest to me. I read a book a week and this was not for me.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 5, 2010

    While My Sister Sleeps

    An excellent story of all levels of family dynamics. Deep secrets kept, with only the best of intentions. It was a rare look into a family that really thought they knew each other, but didn't know each other at all. A great lesson in being open, honest and trusting with loved ones. Wonderfully masterful plot.... even though you think you know the story in the first few pages and wonder what could possibly fill the rest of the book. Then came the surprises.

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  • Posted April 18, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Sad topic

    While the topic is sad, the material was presented well. Characters were well developed and subject matter was easily discussable. Not a major work of literature, but a nice book.

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