How many pages does a book need to have before being referred to as a tome? This question may be the librarian equivalent of how many licks to the middle of a Tootsie Pop. And do not get me started on Tootsie Pops, which I find remarkably disgusting and when I was little I called them Tootsie Turds because the lollipop was marred with that nasty business in the center. But I digress. The novel that I just read, The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing, by Mira Jacobs, is a tome (over 500 pages counts, I think) that is worth all the pages, and rest assured there is no Tootsie Turd at the center of the book.
The story is mostly told through the eyes of Amina, about herself and her family. The narrative jumps back and forth through three timelines: one when Amina is a child on a family visit back to India to see her uncle and grandmother, another when Amina is a teenager in New Mexico and hanging out with her rebellious brother Akhil, and the third when she is an adult working as a wedding photographer in Seattle and her father may or may not be falling ill. This has all the elements of a rich family saga: intergenerational confusion, deep relationship issues, growing perspectives over time and age. This one also has a deftness of tone- the author has a great ability to weave back and forth between incredible angst and remarkable humor in a way that feels natural, like life.
If you’re wanting to plunk down during the holiday and throw down with a tome that is filled with familial dynamics aplenty (maybe you need a break from your own epic family saga?), this one might do it for you.