The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing
Booklist Reviews 2014 May #1
This atmospheric behemoth of a book, Jacob's ambitious first novel, follows the fortunes of the Eapens, an Indian American family dealing with tragedy and loss. Told from the perspective of daughter Amina, a 30-year-old professional photographer, the book moves backward and forward in time from 1979, which finds the Eapens on a visit to India; to 1983, when tragedy first strikes the family, now living in Albuquerque, New Mexico; to 1998, when that same tragedy, which involved Amina's firebrand older brother, Akhil, revisits the family as Amina's father, Thomas, faces a possibly terminal illness. Jacob has written a closely observed, scrupulously detailed story of an extended family dealing with the difficulties of living in America and with each other. That the past is always present in their lives provides a dramatic tension that at once brings them together and threatens to drive them apart. Jacob has done an excellent job of balancing these elements as she has created a memorable and dramatic portrait of a family in flux. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.
LJ Reviews 2014 February #1
Having done everything from editing websites like Yahoo! Shine and Babble.com to cofounding the Pete's Reading Series in Brooklyn, Jacob shows up with a first novel that ranges from Seventies India to Eighties New Mexico to Nineties Seattle. Brain surgeon Thomas Eapen's decision to shorten his visit to his mother's home in India has consequences that reverberate two decades later as he starts conversing with the dead and daughter Amina must sort through the family's past to help him. The book was bought in a five-round auction involving seven houses, and rights have been sold to seven foreign territories.[Page 54]. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
LJ Reviews 2014 June #1
In this strong debut novel, grief has haunted the Eapen family since their move from India to the United States in the late 1960s. Now, in the late 1990s, Amina Eapen is called back from Seattle to her parents' home in New Mexico to deal with her brain surgeon father's presumably delusional dialog with dead relatives, and the family's grief powers to the forefront. As the poignant yet witty and irreverent story unfolds, Amina seeks to disentangle fact from fiction, especially regarding the suicide of her precocious brother, Akhil. Ultimately, the Eapens must relive their past in order to face a troubling future. VERDICT Jacob's writing is refreshing, and she excels at creating a powerful bond between the reader and her characters, all wonderfully drawn and with idiosyncratic natures—the mother, Kamala, for instance, is a born-again Christian—that make them enchanting. Recommended for those who like engaging fiction that succeeds in addressing serious issues with some humor. [See Prepub Alert, 1/10/14.]—Faye Chadwell, Oregon State Univ., Corvallis[Page 88]. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
PW Reviews 2014 March #3
Toggling back and forth between the early 1980s and late 1990s, Jacob's emotionally bountiful debut immerses us in the lives of Amina Eapen and her extended Indian-American family, who have lived in Albuquerque, N.Mex., since the late 1960s. In 1998, Amina, then age 30, works as a wedding photographer, having given up a promising photojournalism career after a single picture—a photo of a Native American activist jumping off a bridge—made her notorious. She moved to Seattle to distance herself from her overbearing parents, Kamala and Thomas, but returns home after learning that Thomas, a surgeon, has begun acting strangely. She plans to make it a short trip but decides to stay after her father is diagnosed with a brain tumor. This extended visit forces Amina to confront anew the death of her older brother Akhil, who committed suicide as a teenager, and to rekindle her romance with Jamie Anderson, whose sister was Akhil's girlfriend. The author has a wonderful flair for recreating the messy sprawl of family life, with all its joy, sadness, frustration, and anger. Although overlong, the novel, through its lovingly created and keenly observed characters, makes something new of the Indian immigrant experience in America. Agent: Michelle Tessler, Tessler Literary Agency. (July)[Page ]. Copyright 2014 PWxyz LLC