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Sleeping Arrangements

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  744 ratings  ·  103 reviews
Sleeping Arrangements
Paperback, 240 pages
Published July 1st 2000 by Riverhead Books (first published 1989)
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Average rating 3.87  · 
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 ·  744 ratings  ·  103 reviews

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This book was so amazing - when I finished, I had to double-check and make sure it was a memoir and it was. It's an incredible story that drew me in with the first page and held me to the last. I have checked and found the author has written a few more books, and I plan to see if any of them continue this incredible story.

Laura is a little girl who is orphaned at age 8 when her mother passes away. Poor and living in less than ideal conditions in a run down neighborhood, two of her uncles step up
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"
Feb 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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.
Roxana Chirilă
Jul 19, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I picked this one up pretty much by accident, but I'm so happy I did.

The title was the first hurdle. In hindsight, it's perfect, but at first it seemed to me to hide an erotic mystery between the adults involved. How wrong - the sleeping here always refers to sleep.

At first, Laura and her mother sleep where they can, in the homes of their friends, sometimes under tables, never staying for too long in one place. Then, they find a place of their own to sleep in. And as the story progresses, the sl
Her father was lost in the war, or so her mother always said, so when her mother died Cunningham found herself an orphan at the age of eight. Although on paper they were “the least likely candidates to become my guardians,” the job indeed fell to her bachelor uncles, Gabe and Len (a librarian and a private investigator, respectively), who came to join her in the Bronx apartment and formed “a household where eccentricity is the norm.” Later their mother, “Etka from Minsk,” comes to live with them ...more
Dedication: To my Uncles,
And in memory of my mother

I wish to thank Victoria Wilson,
Daniel Menaker, Owen Laster, and Daniel Strone
for their help and enthusiasm.

Opening: I began my life waiting for him. When the other children asked, "Where is your father?" I had my mother's answer: "He's fighting in the war."

That was a fun departure from my usual fayre. Enjoyable, and at times worrying!

Thanks Overbylass.
Lyn Elliott
The gr book description is so long I don’t need to add anything to it.

I found the hard-edged New York tone awkward, though clearly it comes naturally to Cunningham and would be much more familiar to American readers than to me.
Apr 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
(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 that. ...more
Jun 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
D.E. McCourt
Feb 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classic
This book is a page turner; it’s a memoir that reads like a fast moving novel. Most of us will never know what it’s like to be orphaned by the harsh realities of life, but Laura Cunningham paints a Daliesque portrait of just how crazy that life can be. This is a first class memoir and I find the fact that some folks posted negative reviews astounding! The cast of characters in this girl’s life is colorful, to say the least, and the author is unflinching in her revelations of all the idiosyncrati ...more
Mar 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: autobiography
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
Ilyhana Kennedy
Jun 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
"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.
May 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jul 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I just connected to her and her story.
May 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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.
Jun 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 25, 2010 rated it really liked it
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. "
Jan 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this little gem of a book. This is the author's memoir about her unorthodox but loving upbringing. You walk away from this realizing that loving families come in many different shapes and forms. Highly recommend. ...more
Catherinehaine Haines
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jill Seiden
Dec 09, 2010 rated it really liked it
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.
Elisabeth Kinsey
Apr 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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.
Nov 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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! ...more
Amy Juras
Mar 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written testament to the family: a group of people in one home with a common love and motivations! I laughed and cried, I cheered for the uncles! Bamboozled by a ten year old little girl!
May 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A delightful, well-written story, alternately poignant and laugh-out-loud funny.
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
Jun 01, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A sad and funny story that captures your interest about a resilient little girl who loses her mother at age 8 and is then raised by her somewhat eccentric uncles. Then along comes her Grandmother to round out their unusual family. The life that is given this little girl her first eight years by her mother (her father is absent - the “story” is that he dies in the war) and then by two bachelor uncles is heartwarming. I enjoyed the read very much.
Angie Brackett
Feb 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
fantastic read!

Beautifully written, couldn’t put this down! Eloquent and poetic, this is an unconventional Family with a love that transcended all boundaries, definitely worth a read!
Jul 01, 2009 rated it really liked it
heartwarming/ endearing/ humorous. great perspectives from childhood.
Nancy Hansen
Mar 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was a wonderful memoir. It had it all--tragedy, devoted family, quirkiness, a funky grandmother, wonderful uncles, and a look inside the Bronx in the 50's. ...more
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