Sleepwalking in Daylight by Elizabeth Flock is like an impending train collision – you can see what’s coming, and you know it’s going to be awful, and yet you can’t look away. It’s about Samantha, a mom trapped in a marriage to an uncommunicative, unsupportive husband with an adopted 16-year old daughter and 8-year old twin boys. As her marriage dissipates into a tense and angry stalemate, her daughter Cammy spirals into drug addiction and sex and becomes more and more unreachable. Samantha starts a flirtation with a man in her suburban Chicago town, and eventually channels all of her emotion and hope into him, making her home situation even more bleak.

As I read Sleepwalking in Daylight, I gave up on hoping for a happy ending. Every time Samantha had the opportunity to connect with Cammy, she botched it. And while she wasn’t to blame (entirely) for the sad state of her marriage, that too wasn’t getting any better. So while I was drawn to the book and eager to read ahead to find out what was happening, it was with a sense of dread and doom.

The book is told in alternating chapters between Samantha and Cammy, which is all the more heartbreaking because the reader can pinpoint the lost opportunities for these hurting women to connect.

Nicole at Linus’ Blanket wrote an excellent review of Sleepwalking in Daylight, with which I wholeheartedly agree. It’s a hard book to read because you want to shake these characters and force them to confront what they are avoiding – but like the train collision I mentioned above, the reader is powerless to do anything except watch and wait for the inevitable crash. Don’t be fooled by the pink, chick-lit cover (or any of the other gauzy covers I have seen on Amazon) – this book is anything but.

I can’t remember where I learned about Sleepwalking in Daylight, but it was part of my March spree at The Strand bookstore. I recommend if it you can stomach depressing books, because the writing is very good and I think Flock did an especially good job of describing the battlefields and skirmishes that make up modern marriage and parenthood.

Perhaps I will now move on to something a little less depressing?