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The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  12,550 ratings  ·  1,714 reviews
Spanning India in the 70s to New Mexico in the 80s to Seattle in the 90s, The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing is a winning, irreverent debut novel about a family wrestling with its future and its past.

When brain surgeon Thomas Eapen decides to cut short a visit to his mother's home in India in 1979, he sets into motion a series of events that will forever haunt him and his
Hardcover, 512 pages
Published July 1st 2014 by Random House
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Maryan Kim I think there's more to it. Like how everyone is "sleepwalking" through life, ignoring the reality of the pain their facing and just doing the motions…moreI think there's more to it. Like how everyone is "sleepwalking" through life, ignoring the reality of the pain their facing and just doing the motions. And figuring out at the end how to "dance" through the pain (partially acceptance / family / love / being together and talking about it).(less)

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really liked it Average rating 4.00  · 
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 ·  12,550 ratings  ·  1,714 reviews

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Mira Jacob
Apr 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
...but I might be a bit biased.
Will Byrnes
Mar 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, first-reads
We arrive in this world connected, to people, to places, to cultures. Just because we move on with our lives, emotionally, intellectually, or geographically, this does not mean that our connections are all left behind.

In Mira Jacob’s debut novel, The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing, her characters all struggle with connections, to each other, to their past, to their culture, and ultimately to themselves. For some that struggle includes a connection to reality. The story looks at three places, In
Wow,..... what a book and what a colourful characterful family...
This story will stay with me for a long time I'm sure...
Last pages (and other parts of the book) brought tears and tears to my eyes, could not avoid.
Beautiful, melancholy, sad, funny, tragic, loving and highly recommended.
Rating 3.5

The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing is a tale of the Eapen family. At the core is Amina, the daughter, telling her story. Her father, Thomas, is ill and her mother, Kamala, convinces her to come home. We also hear about her brother Akhil. The story is told over many years alternating back and forth in time, hearing the past and present stories of this family. It also switches locales from New Mexico, Seattle, and India. There are many family members and others that make appearances with
Chris Blocker
May 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I don't remember what I was thinking when I requested an advanced reader's copy of The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing. I know when it showed up in the mail, however, I was wondering why I had wanted this book in the first place. The premise and the cover no longer enticed me. I set it aside and put off reading it until the last minute. I believe the fates must have been looking out for me when I originally requested this book because it was great.

One of my concerns was that this was going to be
Elyse  Walters
Jun 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
Update: on sale today for $1.99
I met the author - in Austin - after I had read and reviewed this.
Much was inspired by family experiences of her own. The Indian Food dishes in the novel make you ready for a spicy meal yourself. Definitely worth $1.99

The STORYTELLING of "The Sleepwalkers Guide to Dancing" fantastic. This 500 page book is a multigenerational saga --It had triumphs, humor, grief, delicious Chutneys and sumptuous meals, and characters, all easy to relate to, (from India to the Sta
Dec 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: phenomenal, read-2016
I slept on Mira Jacob for awhile. I was vaguely aware that she existed, but I felt no particular compulsion to seek out her books. Then I read her essays "37 Difficult Questions From My Mixed-Race Son" and "Here’s What I’m Telling My Brown Son About Trump’s America," and before I even finished weeping, I ordered this book.

Friends, it is unbelievably, jaw-droppingly fantastic.

I am going to say something crazy, but even after a week of retrospection, I believe this is the best book I've read sinc
switterbug (Betsey)
May 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
The author’s note, at the end of the book, echoes the overarching themes:

…”what it means, as an immigrant, to make a life in a stolen country.”

This luminous, addictive, page-turning, character-driven, and first-rate storytelling held me in its thrall from beginning to end. Yes, it had echoes of Jhumpa Lahiri (by virtue of evoking the Indian-American experience), and it also at times echoes Richard Ford’s CANADA, as well as Richard Russo, John Irving, and any number of master storytellers that te
Nov 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Thirty year old Amina is called away from her photography job in Seattle by her mother Kamala who has growing concerns that something is seriously wrong with her father. Thomas, her father , is a brilliant neurosurgeon who years before relocated the family ( which then included his wife and young son Ahkil ) from India to New Mexico. Upon arriving home Amina finds much more than she bargained for. Thomas is indeed acting unusual doing such things as conversing with dead relatives, leaving Kamala ...more
Jan 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book is to be savored. It's the kind of novel where the only thing that prevents you from being sad about being closer to the end every time you turn the page is that you're totally wrapped up in the narrative.

Although it deals with dark themes honestly, it's also a book that's overwhelmingly optimistic and cheerful (and funny!) -- a reminder to embrace life's beauty even or especially in situations when it's easiest to ignore.

By the time you finish it, you feel like you've made a friend w
May 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: best-of-2015
A good debut novel about family dynamics. A 3.5 for me - a little overlong and rambly, but there are some poignant and eloquent observations about grief that will ring true if you have experienced the loss of a loved one, especially an immediate family member.
Joy D
In Mira Jacob’s impressive debut novel, Amina Eapen is living is Seattle in 1998 when she gets a call from her mother saying her father, a brain surgeon, has been conducting full conversations with deceased family members. Amina is concerned and decides to see for herself what is happening. At first everything seems fine but, as the story unfolds, she realizes her father is in distress. A substantial subplot concerns Amina’s change in career from photojournalist to wedding photographer, due to t ...more
Jun 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
As William Faulkner once wrote, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

This line is certainly true for Amina, a once promising photojournalist who was traumatized by the events leading to her most famous picture – a Native American activist deliberately plunging over a bridge. Since then, Amina has been navigating her own bridges into adulthood. At 30 years old, she works as a wedding photographer, deals with her dysfunctional parents Kamala and Thomas, and struggles to integrate core trag
Jan 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A story about life, a story about death. Simply good.
Dec 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book renewed my love for fiction.

Over the past few years, disappointed by an overwhelming number of mediocre novels, I've increasingly turned to non-fiction. My rationale was, even if the book is mediocre at least I'll learn something; what's the point of spending time with a mediocre book that's just a story someone invented? This book, though, reminded me of why I used to be a fiction addict.

I don't want to oversell it. It was a long book, and the narrative occasionally sagged. Not every
In "The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing", a family's painful past alternates with the present as they struggle with a developing crisis. Yes the following line is overused but, well, it's true: I wanted to like this book as much as everyone else but I didn't.

The best thing about this book is that the family's dynamics are so genuine. As awkward as the relationships become at times, they are full of real emotions and highlight the various facets of the immigrant experience. I especially enjoyed Ka
Melissa Crytzer Fry
Jul 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
I won an Advanced Reader’s Edition of this book from the Goodreads First Reads program, and I’m so grateful, because I love discovering talented debut authors; Mira Jacob is clearly among the best.

I can honestly say this book – weighing in at about 500 pages – was worth every word. That’s something I can’t claim of the longer books I’ve read this year. Jacob took the time and the pages to develop realistic, flawed-but-lovable, three-dimensional characters. I can’t say enough about the character
Aug 29, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: arc, fiction
It took me some time to slog through this one. I can see why some people loved this book, but it just wasn't my style. I really hated how frantic the dialogue-driven story was. Back and forth, back and forth, with no pauses, no breaks. I longed for some more descriptive passages, more moments of thoughtfulness from the characters. And yet, even without much description, the book went on forever! My God, it could have a few hundred pages shorter, in my opinion.

I do think I was able to appreciate
Jul 04, 2014 rated it liked it
3.5 stars - It was really good.

Started slow, middle was fantastic, ended slowly. An enjoyable story with strong characterization that addresses assimilation across two generations within a family, but there is not anything particularly new here and I wish the pacing would have been more even throughout the novel.

Favorite Quote: There are small blessings, tiny ones that come unbidden and make the hard day one sigh lighter.

First Sentence: It was a fever,
Aug 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
“There are small blessings, tiny ones that come unbidden and make a hard day one sigh lighter.”

Good writing is one such blessing. I ordered this book based on my mom’s rave and spent a wonderful few days entranced by Mira Jacob’s wonderful debut novel. It’s the rare book that continues to get better as it goes on, but in this case I couldn’t put the story down once I was into the second half.

The plot is nothing remarkably new. Amina is a thirty-something who has to return home to deal with a sic
Jul 13, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ms.pegasus by: review in Boston Globe by Laura Collins-Hughes
Shelves: fiction
Mira Jacobs examines family tensions exacerbated by diaspora in this narrative of the Eapen Family, emigrees from South India. A prologue establishes the present day timeline, June 1998. It is a literary snapshot providing the reader with a glimpse of their tenuous dynamic: one that's conscious, formal, safe, prescribed, and emotionally repressed; and one that's explosive and brutally candid, to be expressed only under the guise of abnormality: sleepwalking or mental aberration. Amina lives in S ...more
Jun 19, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
*i received this book from a First Reads Giveaway*

I SO wanted to love this book. It had all of the checkpoints of an "Oh Yeah, Abby's Gonna Love This" Book. Story spanning several decades? Check. Story follows a family and explores the relationships within that family? Check. Book jacket hints at supernatural/magical undertones? Triple check. What I ended up reading, however, was what I feel is a book that's couple hundred pages too long, with a story full of people who were well developed, but
Jessica Woodbury
Mar 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is one of those books that I had before publication but didn't get to. There are many books like that, and I only end up reading a small number of them once they're out in the world. I heard a lot of good things about this book, and kept it in my mind as something I should check out. Ultimately I was tempted by the audiobook, which the author reads herself. I love that kind of audio experience because I know the author reads things as they're intended.

I enjoyed this book very deeply. Even
Apr 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc-and-freebies
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Bonnie Brody
Jul 06, 2014 rated it liked it
This 500 page novel is about an immigrant family from India that comes to the United State in 1968, settling in Albuquerque. The novel goes back and forth in time, giving the reader a sense of what things were like in India as well as during the early years in New Mexico, along with what is happening currently.

Amina is the primary character in the novel. She has left Albuquerque and now lives in Seattle where she is a wedding photographer. Out of the blue, she gets a phone call from her mother,
Dec 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
A solid 3.5 stars

What makes this novel work is Jacob's ability to write dialogue, spoken and internal. Her characters are humane and sympathetically drawn, trying to reach out to each other in their flawed, sometimes misguided ways. I really enjoyed this one.

There was one particular scene in this book that really discomfited me, though. In it, Amina, the main character, is about to give her boyfriend a blowjob. He says "wait" twice; she ignores him and goes ahead and gives it to him anyway. Let
Alison Hart
Feb 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
All I want is for a book to make me laugh or cry, and this one did both. These characters--these families and their heartbreaks and squabbles and hilarities--were real to me. I imagine that there are invisible pages out there in which they are still taking care of each other, lifting each other up and driving each other crazy. I loved this book.
Mar 03, 2014 rated it liked it
It has taken me a very long time to write this review. It also took me a long time to finish this book.

I am so conflicted about how I feel about this novel. The beginning of the novel was stellar. I was completely absorbed in story of Amina's family and their visit back home to India. I wanted to know more about their life and time there. Unfortunately, that section of the book was very brief. Most of the book focused on the Eapen family life in America.

Here is where I felt it lagged. The most
Jul 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I want to write a review, but I'm too tired right now. Maybe I'll come back to this but my track record is not great with that sort of thing. Suffice it to say that this was a really great read. The type of book that if you don't take your commuter train to the last stop, you might forget to get off the train. If you read in the morning over coffee before work, you might curse your coffee for disappearing "too fast" and be late for work. If you read before bed, you will need two such cups of cof ...more
While it started a little slow, I soon was entranced by Jacob's meticulous prose and the characters that she so lovingly created. A heartbreaking family tale - flashing between decades (80s and 90s) and locales (South India, Seattle, and finally Albuquerque) as the story falls into place.

Downgraded (just a tad) because I felt that the end was a little slapdash, and other parts of the book could have been edited (e.g. almost all of Amina's life in Seattle with her boss, etc.) Only other criticis
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I am the author and illustrator of Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations. My first novel, The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing, was a Barnes & Noble Discover New Writers pick, shortlisted for India’s Tata First Literature Award, and longlisted for the Brooklyn Literary Eagles Prize.

My writing and drawings have appeared in The New York Times, Electric Literature, Tin House, Literary Hub, Guernica, Vog

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