Saturday, December 5, 2009

Sleepless Nights Have Never Been so Interesting!!

Sleepwalking has never become as interesting as it has in Thomas Fahy’s young adult horror novel Sleepless!! Emma Montgomery is a teenager who has been having some major trouble sleeping since she returned to the small town of Sea Cliff which is on Long Island, from her summer school trip to New Orleans. Poor Emma, who is also grieving over the death of her mother, is having terrible nightmares and she can not even remember what they are about she only knows that when she awakens something terrible is bound to happen soon. Emma even awakes in different locations from where she was when she fell asleep. Emma soon finds out that she is not the only person suffering from these nightmares. The other members of Dr. Beecher’s secret society that Emma is a part of at Saint Opportuna High are also having a troubled sleep. Dr. Beecher was the faculty advisor on the students’ trip to New Orleans to rebuild houses after the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina. The students and Dr. Beecher formed a bond on their trip and promised each other that they keep the details of the trip secret and only between those that went on the trip. These details include the mysterious events surrounding the death of Reverend Michaels who was the reverend of the church the students were sleeping at during their stay in New Orleans. Soon someone turns up murdered, and it appears by one of them. Now the race is on to stay awake and figure out what is causing the nightmares before more people get hurt or even worse murdered. Readers are kept guessing as to whom or what could possible be behind the horror and the only person we really get to know and trust is Emma our main character, and Jack Hardale another member of the secret society who is also a pot dealer to his fellow students. Jack is a character reluctant readers would relate to because he does not like school much, but he does like Emma and his hobby/job which is fixing cars at an auto shop. Ms. Dupré is another character in the story who adds an interesting dynamic because she relocated to Sea Cliff after Hurricane Katrina and practice voodoo so some are suspicious of her.
With a little over 200 pages, quick moving chapters, and an awesome cover to capture their attention, this book is sure to get some reluctant readers interested in reading. Fahy also writes in a manner that will be easy for younger teens to understand and includes elements of horror as well as mystery. I think this book is appropriate for grades 9 and up, some of the imagery may give younger readers nightmares. I would recommend this book to both male and female reluctant readers on an independent reading list. Although Emma is the main characters male’s male students also have Jack's perspective to relate to. I also feel the book referencing Hurricane Katrina keeps it modern and relatable since many may have at least heard about this disaster and if they have not it may spark their interest and cause students to want to learn more.


Clarissa H. said...

Hi Marcella,

What an interesting storyline! Sort of Nightmare on Elm Street meets Habitat for Humanity. I liked how you describe the story centering on a real event, Hurricane Katrina, and developing into something that sounds like an engaging and fun read for young adults. Do you think that this book could be used in the classroom also?

Andra said...


Great review! I am very curious! I think it is good to find books for reluctant readers. So often teachers choose books and those students are not interested. I think choice books are very important to reading classes. When students choose their book, they are more likely read it and enjoy it.

I wonder if your book and the graphic novel I read, A.D., could be used in conjunction somehow. A.D. is about seven people who experienced Katrina in different ways. I also thought it was a good book for reluctant readers. Maybe students could choose between Sleepless and A.D. and then a social studies teacher could make the historical connection in class. I love when there are cross-curricular connections! Does Sleepless describe much of what the students see/experience while in New Orleans?


Krystal Tanami said...

My niece has been wanting to read this but I wasn't sure it was appropriate for her. Thanks for writing this review from it I realized the book is good for her, since she likes horror, and I will be buying it for her.

Marcella said...

To answer the questions, the book does not go into a great deal of detail about the events surrounding Hurricane Katrina which was a slight disappointment so some added teaching would be need. I do believe it can be taught in a class especially since it can be used as a gateway piece to discuss Hurricane Katrina In depth. It introduces it and you can use another piece to build a unit and close with the teaching the hurricane. Krystal I hope you and your niece enjoy