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Sleepwalking in Daylight
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Sleepwalking in Daylight

4.0 27
by Elizabeth Flock

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Once defined by her career and independence, stay-at-home mom Samantha Friedman finds that her days have been reduced to errands, car pools and suburban gossip. What was an easy decision for Sam years ago has become a nagging awareness that this life was her choice. Now she deals with a husband who shows up for dinner but is too preoccupied for conversation,


Once defined by her career and independence, stay-at-home mom Samantha Friedman finds that her days have been reduced to errands, car pools and suburban gossip. What was an easy decision for Sam years ago has become a nagging awareness that this life was her choice. Now she deals with a husband who shows up for dinner but is too preoccupied for conversation, and a daughter swathed in black clothing and Goth makeup who won't talk at all.

Believing she's an adopted mistake, seventeen-year-old Cammy has fallen into sex and drugs and pours herself into a journal filled with poetry and pain. On parallel paths, mother and daughter indulge in desperate, furtive escapism—for Sam, a heady affair with her supposed soul mate, fueled by clandestine coffee dates and the desire to feel something; for Cammy, a secretive search for her birth mother punctuated by pills, pot and the need to feel absolutely nothing.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Bestseller Flock's downer latest takes a glimpse inside a dysfunctional and affluent Chicago family. Samantha Friedman is an unhappy stay-at-home mother of three and wife to her distant and despondent husband, Bob. Their adopted 17-year-old daughter, Cammy, as unhappy as her mother, has found goth, drugs and sex. The unhappy flailings of the two provide the narrative momentum; Cammy's mopey journals (which include, for better or for worse, her poetry) document her pain and reckless behavior, and Samantha's narration explores her affair with a married man. When Cammy learns the truth about her birth mother and the circumstances of her adoption, she sinks further into despair, and Samantha attempts to connect with her while teetering on the brink of abandoning her marriage. Flock's plot is heavy on the sorrow, though there's a requisitely redemptive ending to lighten the familiar and melancholy arc. (Mar.)

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

"Do you ever want to walk away from your life?" is the question that hangs over Flock's (Me & Emma) latest novel. Samantha Friedman's marriage is slowly eroding from lack of interest, something she suspected as early as her honeymoon. The adoption of Cammy, a two-year-old crack baby, and the subsequent birth of twin sons failed to improve the marriage. Samantha's friendship with a married man and her self-absorption in her own problems blind her to her daughter's cries for help. Now 16, Cammy feels unwanted and unloved, and turns to drugs and sex. This is a story that can only end in heartbreak. Unfortunately, it is not a particularly original one. With its language, sex, and drugs, this dreary tale is recommended only for those libraries that need additional books for readers who enjoy "problem fiction," as popularized by Oprah's Book Club picks.
—Lesa Holstine

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We haven't had sex in eleven months. Just shy of a year. More time than it takes to grow a human being. I know it was eleven months ago for two reasons: one, it was on our wedding anniversary and on wedding anniversaries sex is a given and two, the next night was the incident with the family room light. I was reading a book about a missionary family in Africa I ordered after Oprah plugged it. I keep track of what I read on my calendar and plus I remember wishing it weren't our wedding anniversary because I was at the good part but instead I had to pretend I didn't know Bob was simply going through the motions required of husbands celebrating their wedding anniversaries.

So there we were the following night, in the second floor room that is, after the kitchen, the nerve center of our house. Bob was at the computer in the corner searching eBay for tennis rackets even though it'd end up costing more for one on eBay when you factor in the shipping and handling.

"Why don't you just go to Sportmart?" I'd asked earlier in the evening.

"I'm looking for the old wooden ones,"he said without looking up. "The old Wilsons."

I shrugged and went back to my book. I became so engrossed I remember looking up and feeling shock that no, I wasn't in a civil war in the Congo, I was actually in my tidy three-story house on Chicago's North Side. I remember smiling and thinking I love it when that happens. When a book's so good you forget who and where you are.

I'd heard Bob sighing and pushing back from the family desk littered with half-finished homework, field-trip permission slips and school reminders on brightly colored paper. He crossed the room and flicked off the light as he left and it took me calling "hey" for him to come back, switch it back on with an "oh, sorry, I forgot you were there." The worst part was he wasn't doing it to prove some point. He truly forgot I was in the room with him. Which is exactly the point. We haven't had sex since.

I know it seems like a silly thing, the light incident. But everyone has that final straw, that moment of clarity when you can't put your finger on it, you just know there's been a shift, a ripple in the atmosphere. The little things have added up and finally you can't take it anymore. We've been quietly drifting into our own worlds for a while, Bob and I. I've just been ignoring it. Up until now. And I can't take it anymore.

Just last week I got buttermilk for the pancakes I decided to make for no real reason. A special treat. I felt like making an effort for once. I got the buttermilk because I know Bob likes it when the pancakes are richer. Swanky pancakes he used to say in a tone that thanked me for going the extra mile back when something like buttermilk was considered going the extra mile. Last week not only did he not notice we were having something other than cold cereal, but when I carefully slid a stack from the spatula onto a plate waved me off and he said, "None for me. There's that construction on Irving Park so we've gotta get going. C'mon, guys."

Our eight-year-old sons, Jamie and Andrew, were still chewing when they grabbed their shin guards and soccer cleats. Sometimes I wonder if they really are twins, they're so different in looks and personality. Jamie moves slowly and deliberately like he's thought out every step he takes. Before breakfast he lined up his guards and shoes neatly by the backdoor. He put out two bottles of water, just to the side. He remembers the second one because Andrew never does. Jamie has freckles across his nose. His skin is so milky white you can see blue veins through it. His delicate features I think will translate into a refined face later on. He is small for eight and many people assume he is younger than his brother. Andrew is solid and stocky with thick brownish-red hair and a Dennis the Menace cowlick. He is exactly what you think of when you think of an eight-year-old boy: messy, unkempt, fearless. If he falls down and cuts his lip he spits the blood out and keeps going. He's got a short attention span but he was tested for ADHD and came up clean. I've had to tell Jamie not to pick up after his brother, which he does on the sly because he can't bear to see his twin in trouble. In trouble Jamie looks wounded. Andrew just tips his head back to roll his eyes at the ceiling and sighs at the futility of parental warnings. Nothing gets through to Andrew; everything gets through to Jamie.

"You know which field it is, right?" I ask Bob.

"I know which field," he says, annoyed but pausing for a sneeze of a second while he considers double checking.

"I'm just saying. It's changed this season and you haven't been yet. Boys, you know which way to go, right? Take a right from the parking lot and go over the hill, remember? Show Dad the way, will you?"

"Bye, Mom!" Andrew calls out.

"Tie your shoes, Andrew. Bob, get him to tie them up before he gets out of the car. He'll trip."

"Yeah yeah yeah, tie your shoes," Bob says. "Let's go guys."

The soccer ball is wedged between his arm and ribs. He drops the keys and bends like a pregnant woman to pick them up, careful not to tip the plastic grocery-store platter of doughnuts I got for halftime.

"Don't forget the dry cleaning on the way back," I tell him. "Hey—you want steak for dinner? I'm going to the market."

"Yeah, fine, whatever. Jamie, get a move on, kiddo,"he says from the door to the garage.

Our backdoor opens to a stone path Bob and I laid when we first moved in almost twenty years ago. We were house poor but thrilled to own in what was then an up-and-coming neighborhood. We'd brought a boom box out back and played the only radio station that came in. Jazz music. I lost steam halfway through the job that was supposed to take only a day but stretched out over two whole weekends because the pavers we'd chosen were mismatched. There were countless trips to and from the outdoor landscaping center. The second Saturday I lay back on the grass in the sun listening to Miles Davis and Bob whistling then cursing. I remember staring up at the clouds like a kid, smiling at life. We had a great house, there was a light breeze and I was lying on land we owned, my bare feet on our grass. I remember shading my eyes to watch Bob with a mathematician's concentration size up stone after stone over the shallow hole he had dug. His college T-shirt was new then. It was a Squeeze concert tee from when they played on campus. Our second or third date. Sophomore year. Boston College. 1981. After the concert we got drunk at a keg party at his friends' off-campus house.

I was all over him back then. I thought it was sweet that he wanted to take it slow. He said I was different. He said he didn't just want sex, he wanted to "go the distance." He said he didn't want to do anything to "mess us up." So we took it slow. We fooled around but nothing major. We slept squeezed into my single bed under my Marimekko comforter to the smell of ramen noodles and beer. I remember wishing he weren't so sloppy a kisser, but I figured it'd get better over time. It never did get better, but I figured there were more important things in life than having to wipe my mouth with the back of my hand after kissing him.

Our friends loved being with us because we weren't the kind to couple off and make the single ones feel worse for being single. We were the fun ones. We went to parties and split up to talk with this friend and that—we didn't need to be together every second. In fact, it was not uncommon for us to go a few days without seeing one another. Like during midterms. Still, we'd always know where the other one was. We had our schedules memorized. Sometimes I'd wait for him after his sports-medicine class and get coffee at the student center cafeteria filled with flyers with roommates, band members, used books, tutoring. We had so much in common there was very little learning curve. We were both from Chicago, we'd both gone to parochial high schools, we were both only children. My best friend—my freshman roommate, Lynn— became his best friend. We double-dated with Lynn and her various boyfriends. When she found herself in between boys Bob fixed her up with his friend Patel from Delhi, India, but she can be embarrassingly difficult if she doesn't like someone and she didn't like Patel and Bob swore he'd never fix her up again but he did because I begged him to and finally she clicked with Michael who she ended up marrying and Bob was best man and I was maid-of-honor and it was all perfect. Storybook. We got married when Lynn and Mike got back from their honeymoon. We laughed and said we were like Fred and Ethel and Lucy and Ricky. Then we 'd argue about who got to be Lucy and Ricky and who had to be Fred and Ethel. I'd imagined we'd live in houses next door to one another. Lynn and I would quit our jobs to raise our kids together. We'd have coffee after carpooling. Bob would play weekly pickup games with Mike and they'd talk about how cool their wives were. I imagined Bob and me spooning every night like we'd done in my dorm room. I wanted the white-picket fence. I was sure we'd have children, but at the time, being so young, I felt indifferent about it.

But somewhere in there I had doubts. I began to worry on the honeymoon actually. We were happy in the Caribbean, Jet Skiing, parasailing, snorkeling, sunset booze cruises with other honeymoon-ers, but I started to notice we were running out of things to talk about. Like we'd had a set amount of sentences in the bank and by the time the honeymoon rolled around that savings account was empty.

On the beach one afternoon, gloomy clouds turned day into night and dumped rain like they were punishing us. It happened so quickly we didn't have time to rush to the car, so we waited it out under our rented Heineken umbrella that was as useless at shielding us from the tropical shower as it was from the brutal white sun.

"Are you upset about something?" I asked him. "You've been so quiet."

He shrugged and stared out at the kidney clouds.

"What is it?" I asked him. "I'm freezing—will you pass me the extra towel in the bag?"

He was mechanical. His arm bent at the elbow, dipping into the bag on his right, clutching the towel, passing it across to me on his left like claw-a-stuffed-animal machines at supermarket entrances.

"It's just…" he said, fixing his eyes at the clouds rolling away to refill themselves. "This is it."

"Wait, what? What're you talking about? Are you freaking out? Do you wish we hadn't gotten married or something? Here, get under the towel." I pressed closer into him. "Aren't you cold?"

"I'm fine. Forget it. It's stopping. Want to go back to the hotel?"

"What does 'this is it' mean?"

He said, "Just forget it, okay? Forget it," with a rattlesnake's venom, so I backed off. I was young and figured it'd all work itself out. I thought it was a gloomy rainy day kind of mood.

I did wonder why we weren't in the bedroom more. Our room had a king-size bed with big fluffy pillows and equally soft robes in the closet. Turn-down service included rose petals sprinkled on the bed. The hotel catered to honeymooners. Lots of finger foods. Chocolate-covered strawberries. I chalked his mood up to being exhausted from the swirl of wedding planning. Bob's always been an active guy so I knew going in it wouldn't be a languid lie-on-the-hammock kind of trip. On the last night of the trip we went to a tiki-hut bar on the beach. We got a bucket of beer and listened to the steel-drum band, nodding to the beat, looking out at the ocean. Bob moved from beer to scotch. I'd only seen him drink scotch once when he was with his fraternity brothers at a homecoming party senior year. We watched the sunset. He jingled the ice cubes and drained the rest of his drink, holding up the glass to signal the waiter for another. I went to the bathroom, washed my hands, looked into the mirror and thought, I think I just made a huge mistake. There was no one to talk to about this but I worried. I worried and worried and worried myself into a thick inertia that kept me canceling plans with Lynn and Mike for nearly two weeks after we'd gotten home. I hadn't wanted Lynn reading my mind. The stone path isn't a straight line. We thought it would be prettier winding to the garage like a miniature Yellow Brick Road. Now we all use the direct route across the grass. Lynn and Mike bought a house two streets over in our tree-lined neighborhood that feels like the suburbs but is just a few minutes from downtown Chicago. The two- and three-story houses on our street are similarly designed with small squares of grass, front porches, patios, decks and grass out back. Two-car garages that open to a long narrow alley that requires a tap on the horn and a wave to someone waiting politely to back out. Barbecues with large spatulas and tongs. Brick chimneys. Wreaths and roping in winter. American flags in summer. Indian corn in the fall. On any given week there can be three, four visits from Boy Scouts selling wrapping paper or magazine subscriptions, clipboards held by crunchy-granola college kids wanting to save the planet, a local guy down on his luck offering to clean up leaves with a flimsy rake he carries with him from house to house. In the winter he comes to shovel snow off our short walkways up from the sidewalk. He says we can pay him whatever we think it's worth.

Meet the Author

Elizabeth Flock is a former journalist who reported for Time and People magazines and worked as an on-air correspondent for CBS before becoming a full-time writer. The New York Times bestselling author of But Inside I’m Screaming, Everything Must Go and Me & Emma—a Book Sense Notable Title and Highlight Pick of the Year—lives in New York City. You can contact Elizabeth through her Web site at www.ElizabethFlock.com.

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Sleepwalking in Daylight 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 27 reviews.
Justpeachy1 More than 1 year ago
My Synopsis: Sleepwalking in Daylight is the story of a mother and a daughter. Samantha Friedman wonders on a daily basis if this is all there is? carpools and soccer games, errands and book club meetings. Is there more to life than living with a husband who is depressed and feels absolutely nothing and a Goth daughter who can't stand her? Sam, uses her relationship with a stranger to help her escape her everyday life. Clandestine meetings at a local coffee house and secret e-mails fill her days and her mind. Cammy Friedman feels like an outcast. Since finding out she was adopted Cammy has gotten into wearing all black clothing and white make-up. Drawing black teardrops on her jaw and messing around with a disreputable crowd. Is there more to life than this? Being an outcast who doesn't belong at school or at home? Cammy escapes by thinking and searching for her birth mother and by smoking reefer and popping pills. Until one day there isn't any escape for either of them. My Thoughts: This book caused me to shed a tear or two, which means it accomplished it's purpose. If a book can make you feel something, if it can move you in some way. Isn't that what it's all about? When I write I want to make a difference. I want to show someone something to inform them to make them think and Elizabeth Flock certainly did that for me. I find myself identifying with Samantha. There was a time in my life that I just felt like I was going through the motions, that life was just a succession of bad days and worse nights. My children were small and I just wanted more. I wasn't the person I always dreamed I'd be. I'm glad it didn't take a drastic situation to make me see that I had to change. But, I can see how in some people's lives that defining moment happens that way. Cammy is such a scared little girl in a teenagers body. She just wants to be loved for who she is. I wonder what my daughter thinks about. I wonder if she'll be faced with some of the hardships Cammy had to go through. I wonder if I'm doing enough? Am I asking the right questions? How well do I know her friends? Am I really aware of what's going on in her life? This book will make you think. It make you feel something. Whether it is desperation, sadness, even a kinship with Samantha or Cammy. You won't put this one down feeling the same way you did when you picked it up.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As a stay at home mom and mother of five, I was completely engrossed in Sleepwalking in Daylight. Elizabeth Flock has an uncanny way of writing from the heart of her characters, specifically Samantha, the sleepwalking mom and Cammy, the adopted daughter who is searching for love and acceptance in all the wrong ways. The ending is haunting, yet any other ending would not have done the book justice. It's a wake-up call to all of us parents who can relate so well to what is happening in this family that looks so "perfect" to everyone else. We all know the power a computer can have on you, making you ignore the important things you should be doing instead. We know the teenage attitudes we have to deal with where it's easier to send them to their rooms and keep the door shut between you. We know the stresses we feel about our husbands, our boredom, our exhaustion, our lives. It's our lives. But this book captures the realities of what can happen if we don't watch out. If we don't stop sleepwalking. It's a must read for everyone.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In Chicago, Samantha Friedman misses her former life before she became a car pooling soccer mom to her teenage adopted daughter Cammy and her eight years old twin sons Jamie and Andrew. The stay-at-home mother reflects bitterly that she has not had sex with her husband Bob in a period longer than it takes to have a baby. Samantha has escaped ennui with an affair as she considers running away from family and responsibility.

Seventeen years old Cammy is even more despondent than her mother as she turns to drugs and sex to escape reality. The brooding goth teen keeps a diary including dark poetry that reflect her anguish while writing about her out of control activities as she considers running away from family and responsibility.

The despondency level of this dysfunctional family makes for a deep but difficult read. The two Freidman females are fully developed so the audience sympathizes with the two of them. Filled with despair and a sense of hopelessness, mother and daughter desperately need to find one another before there is that all there is in life takes full hold on them. The males serve roles that enable readers to better understand how despondent the women truly are. Although the ending seems contrived, the aptly titled SLEEPWALKING IN DAYLIGHT is a profound tale in which wealth does not necessarily mean happiness.

Harriet Klausner
Vidalynna More than 1 year ago
Good book, I must say; however, extremely depressing. It will take some time to absorb the information - since its so heart wrenching. If you can handle it, I say - go for it!
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aps90 More than 1 year ago
I think that Flock's writing style is what threw me off. The beginning was good, and the ending was super emotional and great, but the rest of it was bleh. The flow was interrupted because many of her sentences were grammatically incoherent, or there would be sentences that were not necessary to the storyline/didn't fit. Also, I think Flock comes from a slightly ignorant, white, middle-class point of view. A lot of her assumptions about class and race pointed towards a sheltered life. Of course, Samantha was a white, upper-middle class, suburban housewife, so that might have been why. For Flock's next novel, I'd like to see better editing, more focus, and more depth.
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Dreamer_Gal More than 1 year ago
Okay so not everyone is going to enjoy this book because it is a little sad but the beauty of it is that it mimics real life. The reason I enjoyed it so much is because I could see alot of the daughter in myself when I was growing up. The teen years are tough to go through and when you feel insecure, ignored, and unloved....well....it can be devastating and as Dr. Phil would say...."circumstances as these can change who you were meant to be". Now in my adult years, I most certainly feel for the wife and mother because I can totally relate. It's as though all those trials and disappointments as a teen seem to follow you into adulthood....well, for some of us anyhow. Life just isn't a bowl of cherries for everyone and as I go through my daily life, I notice those around me and wonder...what's their story? are they happy? why does she look so sad? Some people obviously might appear to have it all together, but does anyone ever "really" have it all together? I think not. So if you wonder if you're the only one going through such tribulations and would like a dose of reality, then you just may enjoy this book as much as I did.
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Sarah_N_NC More than 1 year ago
I wanted to choke Samantha at the end of the story. She hadn't learned her lesson and her priorities are all messed up. She doesn't know what she wants; for example, from page 280: "Why do I keep going back and forth? Every time I leave him I resolve to not see him again." (Craig) "This time I think I'll do it. This time I'll break free and I'll throw myself back into my family". No inner dialogue/conflict AT ALL about this at their next oh-so-romatic coffee date! Then just twenty pages later on page 300: "The one thing I'm not back and forth about is Craig". So I can guess that Ms.Flock wanted this huge character flaw, or the editor didn't catch the inconsistency. Funny how I never heard any of Samantha's thoughts about resolving to not see Craig again, other than what was on page 280. Anyway, the ensuing tragedy did nothing to show her this. Her daughter is crying out for her help, and the most Sam can think to do is email Craig on the computer, what clothes is she going to wear to her coffee date with him, and, OMG! is that perfume I smell on Bob? etc. And Ms. Flock, I would've liked to get a chapter or two on what good 'ol hubby Bob was thinking and going through, but I assume (and I base this assumption on your writing of Samantha) that men don't have feelings or thoughts or concerns, therefore, why waste the extra time/paper it would've taken to get Bob's perspective? Samantha's a whiner that claims to want to talk to her husband but then does it the wrong way. Maybe at the beginning of the book, Sam should've been reading "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus" instead of the Oprah Book Club selection. The only character I felt anything for was pain-filled Cammy; she needed a true friend to talk to, but never found one. So unless you want to relive some of your teenage years through Cammy, leave this one on the shelf.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
lilpiggie More than 1 year ago
How does a mother deal with a daughter who is going through a "phase" of dying her hair, wearing all black, doing drugs, having sex, and who knows what else? How do you make her see how dangerous this lifestyle is and, most importantly, how does she get her little girl back? How does the girl get her parents to let go and let her live her life? SLEEPWALKING IN DAYLIGHT is a glipse into a dysfunctional family, first hearing what life was like for the mother, then alternately by the daughter, from their very different points of view. Had you been listening to either one of them tell their story, they might have appeared to be talking about completely separate lives since they are both a bit self-involved and have what they think is a clear picture, but it's never so simple. The author does a fabulous job of presenting the voice of a middle-aged mother as well as a teenaged daughter. It was easy to get absorbed into the mother's experience, being a mother myself, but just as easy to feel the angst of the teenager. The story is all too realistic and sad, but certainly eye opening. Instead of glossing over infidelity, loss of identity and frustrations of life the author tackles the subjects as they would happen in "real life" and not as they are often portrayed in the movies...always wrapping up quite neatly. Life just does not happen that way and it was refreshing to see this played out more realistically. This is an interesting, if not melancholy, book. Entertaining and relatively quick to read...and certainly recommended.
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clydepuppee More than 1 year ago
This book is sort of an ongoing diary going back and forth between a mother, Samantha, and her adopted daughter Cammy. This is one of the most emotional books I've ever read and anyone who reads it will will find a little of themselves somewhere in this story. I couldn't put it down once I started it and although the ending is very surprising. it's great. I can't wait to see Elizabeth's next novel. She's a very talented writer. Lorraine
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wow! This book will leave you thinking of it for a long, long time.
Cocosuz More than 1 year ago
This book gets you to thinking how your mundane life can turn both interesting and tragic.
LMC226 More than 1 year ago
This is the first book by Elizabeth Flock that I've read and I can't wait to read another! This was a great book. I highly recommend it. As the mother of a 16 yr old it made me evaluate my own relationship with my son and the kind of parent I am and the kind of parent I want to be. It's easy to get lost in hustle of our everyday lives and this book makes you see what can happen if you're not watching.