A girl discovers a spectral world of jovial abandon when all she wanted was a cure for somnambulism.
Sam is a sleepwalker—has been for most of her 13 years. The bully at her middle school constantly makes fun of her sleep-deprived state. Lately, her nightly escapades are getting more and more dangerous (think: waking-up-in-a-tree-with-a-running-power-tool level of danger), so her anxiety-ridden mother takes her to an unorthodox specialist. His treatment works, and Sam can finally get a good night’s sleep—but she’s shocked to discover that now her soul separates from her body as she slumbers! Guided by another “detached” person, the oh-so-cute Byron, she learns about the many other young SleepWakers, who are divided into like-minded subgroups, with one that threatens to ruin the nighttime freedom for the rest. The rosy moral lesson: Bullies have stories, too, and, once seen and forgiven, they will turn into unlikely friends. While this can be true, the book’s bullies—one at school, one at nighttime, and several others—come across as so mean that something more than apologetic words are really needed as an apology. Aside from Byron’s light brown skin and an Indian tertiary character, the remaining cast is presumed white. The fantastical plot tries to keep one foot planted in realism, but hokey dialogue and the flippant treatment of the fundamentally unsettling premise throw it off balance.
Just too bizarre. (Fiction. 8-13)