Sleeping Arrangements
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Sleeping Arrangements

3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  353 ratings  ·  53 reviews
From the acclaimed novelist, playwright, and journalist Laura Cunningham, a coming of age story and enchanting memoir of childhood

"Here is Lily Moore at 10, as judged by her fifth grade teacher: 'Unsatisfactory...Hair matted, uncombed, disheveled appearance. Soil under nails.' She has in addition been AWOL from school for 37 full and 38 half days...She lives in a bizarre...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published July 1st 2000 by Riverhead Trade (first published 1989)
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Kate
This wonderful little gem is Cunningham's autobiography about an unusual upbringing in the Bronx. As a child, she and her mother moved to an apartment at AnaMor Towers in the Bronx. She runs wild with another child in the neighborhood and becomes rather unrestrained herself. Sadly, her mother passes away, and her two bachelor uncles arrive on the scene, with their own idiosyncracies. They move their mother in and thus begins Laura's new life as an orphan.

If you loved the movie "Unstrung Heroes"...more
GraceAnne
One of my favorite books of all time. Wildly funny, deeply touching, and an absolute example of how a family that might look pretty odd and possibly dangerous from the outside can be warm, loving, and supportive within.
Linda
This was a simply wonderful read. I suppose growing up in Brooklyn in the 1940's-1950's and attending public schools that were overwhelmingly Jewish has something to do with it. We too were a dysfunctional family, though removed from the socio-economic milieu of the author. But the idea of a whacky household has always appealed to me, and my favorite childhood play (seen on early TV) was what my mother, sister and I referred to as "The Crazy Family"--otherwise known as "You Can't Take It With Yo...more
Cheryl in CC NV
Oh gosh. I should've trusted my instinct and judged this book by the cover. Something about the art hinted at a high yuck factor (lots of child sexuality, including molestation and prostitution by a girl as young as 5). But the words all over the cover said stuff like 'comic, delightful, enchanting, funny.' One blurb says you'll want to 'send to your mother' a copy.

Um, no. I did get through it, as did Laura. But if it weren't for those amazing uncles, we may not have been able to do so. I wish s...more
Ilyhana Kennedy
"Sleeping Arrangements" is a rich, warm, funny and loving story of growing up in exceptional circumstances. I loved it. I loved being so very included in the telling. That's the gift the author offers in this novel;she brings you in close to her, and she does this by confiding her most intimate thoughts and experiences.
The story is told in chronological order and that sits quite nicely within the lilting humour.
It rings very true to life.
A top read, beautiful, magic, tragic and quirky.
Ellen
A favorite memoir. Stunning, sweet, funny (sometimes laugh-out-loud funny) It's amazing this tough little girl survived.
Another reviewer, GraceAnne, said this. I agree....

"One of my favorite books of all time. Wildly funny, deeply touching, and an absolute example of how a family that might look pretty odd and possibly dangerous from the outside can be warm, loving, and supportive within. "
Jill
A wonderful look at the world through the eyes of a child from an unconventional, but loving family. Laura Cunningham will break your heart and inspire you to daydream again.
Suzanne
Loved this book to bits. Unusual story but no less enjoyable. One of my favourite of all time.

Anyone who is a fan of coming of age stories in New York this will appeal to you.
Kwoomac
Memoir of a girl growing up in the care of her very loving and eccentric famil. I originally thought this was a work of fiction, everyone is so off beat. Loved it.
Eliana
I loved this book! It's a classic that nobody knows about...really well written and an engaging and interesting story. Keeps you on your toes!
Sylvester
2.5* (I usually read much older memoirs, so this was a departure for me.) With her sparkling imagination and charm, Cunningham shows the magic of a childhood that might otherwise seem bleak and painful. There were uncomfortable bits, yes, but things happen to children for which they have no frame of reference, it's no use to pretend otherwise. At the heart of this memoir is the author's loss of her parents and the commitment of her Uncles to give her a sense of family and stability in spite of t...more
Kerri
A tender, hilarious and completely readable memoir. Sleeping Arrangements is as much the story of a young girl coming of age in the 50s and 60s as it is a portrait of New York at the same time. At age eight, Lily is orphaned and her two bachelor uncles begin to raise her and take care of their senile mother in a cramped apartment in the Bronx. What begins as a tragedy for Lily ends up a sometimes sad but more often hysterical story of how she learns to negotiate life, love, sex, school, religion...more
Tifnie
This was a laugh out loud, shake your head, can't believe they did that sort of story. And who knew it was a memoir. Well, you would if you read the back which I hadn't.

Sleeping Arrangements is about a young Jewish girl, Lily, and her mother who descend upon relatives for periods of time and then move on. When Lily's mother dies and her two uncles come to live with her, Lily's life takes on a more "normal" approach to life. Building a home and structure needed for a young girl to survive the eve...more
Martha
Did I love this book? Excessively, but rather than gush I will quote Lily as she describes her thoughts during the dreaded Home Visit from social services, in particular her response to their inquiry as to whether she was happy in her unusual home/family and received enough affection there:
"How can I tell her about my life here? How do you describe love that need not be spoken of? Can someone tell Miss Riordan how high feelings run here? .....
"No. Excess love may be regarded as worse than no lov...more
Roseann
Just started this one about growing up in the Bronx on the Grand Concourse in the mid 20th century. Not sure if It will hold my interest but the opening chapters were shocking and also lacked some suspension of disbelief....but I was never a projects kid, so who knows?
I will keep going...
Elisabeth Kinsey
Slow to start out, only because the main character is not so sympathetic at first...but becomes so pretty quickly. Sometimes shocking, sometimes gripping but always fun to read and well written.
Nikki
heartwarming/ endearing/ humorous. great perspectives from childhood.
Sarah
I just connected to her and her story.
Megan
I got this book on interlibrary loan from the Chandler Public Library. I always like looking at the interlibrary loan papers, and the stamps and such from other libraries... that's because I'm weird. I can't quite remember what prompted me to get it via ILL, but it came with another childhood memoir, Wait Till Next Year by Goodwin, so maybe I was on a memoirs kick.

This one is pretty good. It follows the author as a little girl growing up in New York, first with her mother (a wild, unrestrained s...more
Cecily
Quirky and delightful, but not cloying or sentimental. There is so much love and celebration of eccentricity that I forgive some of the less plausible aspects (most of which would be eliminated if Lily were just a few years older than claimed).

Lily has an intense and loving relationship with her mother, despite being raised on secrets and collusion (mainly concerning her father, who has allegedly been away fighting the war all Lily's life until 1950 and beyond). Secrets continue throughout. Muc...more
Annette
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Janet
I usually take memoirs with a grain of salt - what one 'remembers' and what actually occurred can vary quite a bit - but I needed a whole shakerful at the beginning of this book. I just could not conceive of a 5 yr old running around the Bronx unattended, even in the 50s. At that point I almost put the book aside, but I'm glad that I continued. I liked the characters - the O.B. (old bachelor) uncles and Lily's maternal grandmother, "Etka from Minsk". Even if in reality they were not quite as ecc...more
Arlene
Lily is first raised by her mother, Rosie. Her Father is not in the picture. Mom says that he is a soldier fighting in WWII but when the war ends he doesn't return home. Mother and daughter finally get their own apartment in the Bronx until the day that Mom doesn't come home from the hospital. Rosie's two bachelor brothers move in to raise Lily. Then they bring their senile mother into the house. This would be a good novel about life in the Bronx but it is a true story. I want to know more - wha...more
MyRanda*
hilarious heart touching horrible
Sandy Hoenecke
Memoir young girl whose mother dies and she is raised by uncles.
Chris
Strange book. I couldn't even remember why I picked this up, but it was enjoyable. It's about an odd family - a young Bronx girl who lives with her single mother has a very odd assortment of friends, with budding sexuality at a very young age. When her mother dies her two very unique uncles come to live with her and they form an even stranger family. But it works. A most unique story.
Katy
I read this memoir in London while on vacation. It starts off very strong and seems a bit rushed toward the finish. However, Cunningham's sensibility is wonderful, and the descriptions of the time spent with her beloved mother really moved me and made me wish I could write something so beautiful about my own.
Tracie
Although Sleeping Arrangements is purportedly a memoir, I struggled to believe the thoughts and experiences of the main character at age 5. Her sexualized/eroticized thoughts and behaviors are the stuff Freud's theories are based on. I would have given it one star, but I did like the uncles.
Lexi
Meh. Certainly not the "comic, touching, delightful" read I anticipated from the cover review but not awful. At times kind of funny, but a jumpy memoir that seems to skip as much of the narrative as it highlights. Perhaps that's the way of memory but it makes for a poor book.
Cornelia DeDona
Brilliant, witty and inspiring!
Sleeping Arrangements will delight and inform..transforming tragedy into a journey of the heart!
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