by Romy Hausmann

Thank you so much to Flatiron Books for gifting me a physical ARC of Sleepless by Romy Hausmann in exchange for an honest review.

This book publishes on October 19, 2021.

UGHH. No one is as upset about me giving this book a 3-star rating (at best) as I am.  I absolutely loved (and I mean LOOOVED) Hausmann’s debut novel, Dear Child—so much that it’s in my top five for this year and definitely one of my favourite crime books of all time (you can read my full review of Dear Child on the Cloud Lake Literary website, here).  I wanted, so much, to love this book—perhaps even more than I do Dear Child—but unfortunately that just didn’t happen.


After being convicted of a crime when she was still a child, Nadja Kulka has been out of jail for a few years. She is mostly content with her simple life: a decent job and one real friend, Laura. Lately Laura has been distant, but suddenly she shows up, shaking and pale. Laura tells Nadja she killed someone. She’s afraid to tell her volatile husband, and she needs Nadja’s help to hide the evidence.

Nadja can’t refuse her only friend. The two women set out for a remote house in the woods, the perfect place to bury a body. But their plan quickly falls apart, and Nadja is trapped, a pawn in a bizarre in which her troubled past could be her salvation… or her downfall.


I’ll begin by saying this: I liked the overall story of Sleepless.  The plot was fine, there were a few surprising twists, the writing was creepy and chilling, and the entire book makes sense as a whole once you’ve finished reading it.  However, the process of getting to the end of the book is just really tiring, complicated, and unclear.

I read a few other reviews that said that reading this book feels like someone took out all of the middle chapters, jumbled them up, and then put them back—which is the absolute perfect description for it.  The transitions between chapters were confusing, as were the transitions within the chapters themselves.  I think that Hausmann was trying to be creative with her story-telling but that it ultimately did not translate well onto paper, and definitely not well enough for the reader to fully enjoy the reading experience.  Now, this could also be a translation error in and of itself—however, I don’t read in German so I can’t really tell you if it is or not..

The story also has a bunch of different threads to keep track of: there’s the past and present of Nadja and Laura; several random letters from one person to another (I thought I knew who was writing them at the beginning but I was very wrong, then I thought they were written by someone else, but I was wrong again); the story of Paul and Nelly (truly wondering if this story arc was even necessary); as well as some chapters that are told through some secondary character’s perspective.  The different threads are eventually tied together, but not in the most satisfying way.

I just really wanted to love this book.  I thoroughly enjoyed how it started and where I thought it was going to go, but I got lost somewhere in the middle and unfortunately things didn’t start to clear up until just before the end of the book, which seems a little too late to really be able to enjoy the book.


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