My Review:The entangled pasts of two ruling class New England families come to light over three summer days on an island in Maine in this extraordinary debut novel.
1964. The Hillsingers and the Quicks have shared the small Maine island of Seven for generations. Though technically family—Jim Hillsinger and Billy Quick married Park Avenue sisters Lila and Hannah Blackwell—they do not mix. Now, on the anniversary of Hannah’s death, Lila feels grief pulling her toward Billy. Jim, a spy recently ousted from the CIA, decides to carry out the threat Lila explicitly forbid: to banish their youngest son, twelve-year-old Catta, to the neighboring island of Baffin for twenty-four hours in an attempt to make a man out of him.
Set during three summer days, Estep Nagy’s debut novel moves among the communities of Seven as longstanding tensions become tactical face-offs where anything is fair game for ammunition. Vividly capturing the rift between the cold warriors of Jim’s generation and the rebellious seekers of Catta’s, We Shall Not All Sleep is a richly told story of American class, family, and manipulation—a compelling portrait of a unique and privileged WASP stronghold on the brink of dissolution.
I am not exaggerating when I tell you that this was one of the oddest, most scatter-brained and difficult to discern books that I have ever read. There were so many threads and POV that I surely missed something in this book - some significance - and generally that would mean a low rating for me but something about this also felt very good to me. The e-ARC had a lot of formatting issues such that I almost want to read a final copy to see if there are more chapter breaks. As it read, POVs were changed without break and it made the book difficult to read, at points. I also had a hard time following the chapters that were flashbacks and/or slipped into the past. Although the book more of less came together at the end with these threads and between the past and present, I'm not sure it delivered on what it promised. Yes, it was an incredibly unique setting and it certainly showed a tension and struggle between two families that own one island but I can't help but feel that I missed something huge about the moral of this story. It may just be me but I know I will think about this book long after I've finished it and that may be the true mark of a remarkable read.
We Shall Not All Sleep comes out next week on July 4, 2017, and you can purchase HERE. This book evades any genre and is definitely an interesting, if odd, read!
This is how the world crushes you, he thought. There was no announcement. There was no freakish blow or lightning or floods or even bears. There was no mystery, not even any struggle or surprise. It was infinitely simple, you were forced into a series of small bad decisions that slowly and irrevocably cut off your options. And then, once you were confused and desperate and worn down by hunger and cold and whatever else--when at last you could no longer move or think--then the crows came down from their trees.