Thirteen years ago, Josie’s father Chuck Burnham was murdered. His killer, according to Jo’s sister, Lanie, is their neighbor Cave Warren. Lanie claimed that she saw Warren Cave pull the trigger and shoot her father.
On present day, reporter Poppy Parnell has started a series of a podcast called Reconsidered, where the one being considered is Chuck’s murder, in order to uncover the truth and possibly prove Cave Warren’s innocence.
Jo’s family isn’t perfect, and in fact their life is only going to get worse…
There’s Erin, the mother, who is marked by the horrors of her past, having to watch her brother die in front of her, losing her parents and then going through her husband’s murder.
Lanie, the rebellious sister, has been a complete mess ever since she was a teenager, with a love for satanic music, booze and drugs. And also, thirteen years later, sleep deprivation, and hauntingly confusing dreams which I think are the main liaisons to the book’s title Are You Sleeping?, which makes the reader wonder, was Lanie awake when she saw the murder in front of her eyes, or was she sleeping, seeing it all in a dream?
And then there’s Josie who, abandoned by both her mother and sister after the death of her father, tries to escape this life of misery. So she changes her name and moves to a new home with Caleb, her loving boyfriend, to whom she had lied about her family and her past.
And it isn’t until this podcast ‘Reconsidered‘ starts bringing up Chuck’s death, Erin’s mental illness and Lanie’s dark past, that Josie begins to be haunted by the things she has tried so hard to forget.
From the beginning, it was obvious that it wasn’t all just about finding the truth about who the killer was. It was much more than that. Kathleen, through this brilliant thriller, not only thrusts suspenseful scenes and entertains the reader with impeccable writing, but she also carefully tackles important subjects like the importance of family, especially the bond of sisterhood, sacrifice, and also how lies, indiscretions and a death of a family member can all present themselves as the beginning of the end.
But whose fault is it? To what lengths will the guilty party go to punish themselves?
Only when I thought that it had all come to an end, one character’s letter is uncovered and it was enough to wreck my mood. It was the perfect ending, but also sad as hell.
I had been longing to read more about this character ever since the start of the book, for it was so clear their role was quite a crucial one in the story, and so I was slightly disappointed as I leafed through the pages because they weren’t given the chance to say their part of the story, until there was this letter that connected all the dots and made everything fall into place. Obviously, Kathleen Barber knew what she was doing, and where to place each character. She’s just that kind of a genius.
Sure, everything sought in the beginning is discovered at the end, but clearly it is not all sunshine and rainbows; the last ones standing still have flaws and doubts provoked by the past, and are clueless about how they’re going to go from here. Also, how will things be after numerous truths have come out? Will the characters be able to start over like all of this never happened? Will they be able to move on?