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Book Reviews: Are You Sleeping + The Group

Are You Sleeping by Kathleen Barber
This excellent novel is obviously inspired by the success of ‘Serial’. Josie’s father was murdered years ago and her sister’s eye-witness testimony put the killer in jail. But now a wannabe investigative journalist is doing a podcast on the case. She claims the wrong man is in jail and that Josie’s estranged sister Laniey is a devious untrustworthy liar.

As a palpable sense of rage and mistrust is raised, the incalculable damage done to Josie and the profound consequences of the murder are made clear. The reporter has moral imperialism and causes consternation and things go as wrong as it is possible to go. Josie has antagonistic venom for her sister who she regards as incapable of decent and respectful behaviour.

In her forlorn narrative of romantic remorse, Josie tells of the crepuscular gloom Lainey cast over the family. But as the reporter ceaselessly focuses her wrath on Lainey, the comically miserable Josie wonders if her super-dodgy sister deserves the fiercely hostile feelings Josie has for her.

The coarse Lainey is morally complex and goes on about vanished chances and deep contemplation of life’s choices and the damaging stigma that makes her ever more angry and resentful. The reporter does not believe in earnest discussions or unalloyed earnestness, she is not an admirable figure as she is worryingly enthusiastic in labelling Lainey of dubious moral character.

Nobody has demonstrative affection for Lainey as wild conjecture leads to emotionally driven thinking. As the incorrigible heedless reporter carries on, things get worse, much worse. There are indirect revelations and the truth comes out, but will it be seriously beneficial to anyone?

The confrontational reporter is overpleased with herself and the truth is about as challenging as a knock knock joke. Nobody wanted to see it though. The woefully neglected Josie is treated with close to loathing by her family and you understand her frustration as no-one has appreciation or respect for her.

Josie the ‘heroine’ is a hypocrite who reacts to every mention of Lainey with detectable annoyance and is unconcerned about all the lies she told and their effects. Everyone has to placate Josie. Leaving aside the dislikeable Josie, I enjoyed this deftly constructed book.

Best Lines:
“Their father’s murder was the most scandalous thing to happen in this town since someone set fire to the Family Tree restaurant.”

“The school’s most burned out losers.”

“Did not have the best reputation.”

“A strong sense of personal property.”

“Zealous advocacy.”

“Once again claiming victimhood based on my perfectly reasonable reaction to her pattern of bad behaviour.”

~
The Group by Mary McCarthy
No.
Tags: 2nd hand book store find, book review
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