Review: Madeleine is Sleeping by Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum

madeleineissleepingI liked this book a lot. Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum has absolutely amazing prose and it’s hauntingly vivid. This book tells the story of a girl named Madeleine whom falls into a deep sleep following her mother dunking her hands into lye when she is discovered committing sexual acts with them. Unable to use her hands even in her dreams, since the lye has turned her hands into little paddles, she runs away to join a circus. At home, her mother and sisters take care of her in bed, her mother experiences success and failure which she blames on Madeleine equally. As the book progresses, Madeleine’s dream world and the real world begin to merge until it’s impossible to tell what’s real and what’s not.

I am a huge fan of books with surrealism, however I feel as though nothing was ever resolved in this book, that there was no logical ending. Nothing seems to come to a close. What happens to… any of the characters, really? Unfortunately this sense of things being completely unresolved makes the book as a whole feel pointless. Very pretty and interesting, but pointless nonetheless and that’s kind of a bummer.



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