James Webster's Reviews > A Long, Long Sleep

A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan
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Feb 11, 12

Read in February, 2012

A Rose By Any Other Age

(Spoiler Alert: I do reveal a few things about this story that would be more fun to read about. However, I do NOT reveal the ending.)

How does time affect who you are? Is the person you were ten years ago just a collection of memories in your mind? Can you find your inner child, or your outer adult? If you and your lover age at different rates, could you still find happiness together?

These are just a few of the questions that meandered through my mind as I read Anna Sheehan’s debut novel, A Long Long Sleep. Ostensibly YA fantasy with a dash of sci-fi, this story defies genres and target audiences. Yes, it contains romance, but it’s not resolved in typical fashion. The narrator is a teenage girl who technically is much older. Much like the novel’s time-bending theme, her voice cuts across age boundaries.

Rosalinda Fitzroy, aka “Sleeping Beauty,” is found in a stasis chamber, where for 60 years she has lain in chemical-induced suspended animation. When she’s awakened by a hunky teenage guy, she finds herself in a world that’s similar to the one she left behind, yet vastly different. Her parents are long dead, and the world has passed through a deadly period of plagues that have killed off most of the world’s population. That world is still dominated by the corporation that Rose’s father ran, though, and Rose finds herself the sole heir to her family’s fortune.

But all is not rosy. Her surrogate parents couldn’t care less about her, her classmates resent her, and the man assigned to shepherd her into her Brave New World is a creepy sleazeball. Even worse, she falls for the hunk who woke her up, and even though he’s obviously attracted to her he keeps her at arm’s length. She escapes into daydreaming about the true love she had before she went into her long sleep, and manages to find some connection to a GM human with alien genes. But then one day a bizarre assassin that’s part corpse, part robot shows up with deadly force and a control collar. As Roselinda struggles to escape from the relentless killer, she learns the shocking truth about her lost parents, her lost love, her lost life...and what she must do to regain her sanity.

While there are a few edge-of-your-seat moments, the strength of Sheehan’s novel lies not in so much in a page-turning plot as in the wonderful way it shows the main character’s response to revelations that threaten to destroy her spiritually. She grows from a docile, psychologically-abused rich girl into someone who learns to face hard facts and deal with ironic age differences (not to mention a psychotic killer zombie robot). The way Sheehan explores her unique blend of frailty and gutsy determination makes this novel a joy to read.

A personal note here: I met Anna at last December’s Big Sur workshop for childrens’ writers. I needed a ride home to Berkeley and she obliged; what followed was an immensely enjoyable 2+hours of conversation—to say that she is an interesting individual is a vast understatement. Since she had a few copies of her novel (Candlewick Press, 2011, 352 pp.) in her car, I bought one and put it on the bottom of my to read list. But once I started it, I didn’t take long to finish. This is one book I’m definitely passing on and recommending to my friends.
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