A Long, Long Sleep, by Anna Sheehan, for Timeslip Tuesday

A Long, Long Sleep, by Anna Sheehan (Candlewick, YA, August 2011, 352 pages)

Rose has slept in stasis for sixty-two years. When she is woken by a boy who has found her lying in a forgotten basement, she finds that the world has been shaken by the cataclysms of the Dark Times, her parents are dead, and she is heir to their interplanetary corporate empire, Unicorp. She is still sixteen, but the boy she loved when she went to sleep is long gone.

Now Rose, set apart by her strange ghost-like state and by her inheritance, must struggle to make sense of this future world. She clings to Bran, the boy who woke her, and gradually builds a friendship with another boy, Otto, the product of an experiment with exo-planetary DNA, who knows what is to be a freak, like Rose is. And all the while Rose must struggle to make sense of the dark shadows her childhood...

Before the assassin who is hunting her can kill her.

Although there are many sci fi touches, such as the stas tubes and other futuristic technology, and the colonization of other planets and moons, these elements don't dominate the story. It is, instead, a character-driven novel. Rose's dislocation, her struggle to make sense of the future world and to find a place for herself, are the heart of the matter, and, since her story is told in the first person, the reader shares her confusion and gradual understanding intimately. And although there are nail-biting moments where the action proceeds rapidly, it is Rose as a person, a troubled, unhappy, and lonely stranger in a strange land, who is always at the story's center. The bitter poignancy of her situation is moving (although I did, I must confess, want to shake a bit more gumption into Rose from time to time), and Sheehan doesn't make the mistake of rushing to resolution with unsatisfying solutions.

I myself like character driven stories, and enjoyed this one just fine. Those who want all their world-building T's crossed and I's dotted might not find what they are looking for here, but, since we are seeing things through Rose's sleep-befuddled eyes, I had no problem with this, and indeed, think it leaves things nice and open for a sequel....

I'm not counting this one as a fairy tale retelling, although the parallels to Sleeping Beauty are obvious, and noticed by the characters themselves--I didn't get the sense that the author intended these parallels to be any more than a metaphoric evocation, rather than a reimagining.

Time-travel through stasis occurs most often aboard space-ships (as in Across The Universe), but in my own mental checklist of what makes something truly a "time travel" book, I don't count those--these travellers don't experience the emotional discongruity, even wrongness, of being strangers in another time. Another example of stasis as time travel that meets my fuzzy definition is Frozen In Time, by Ali Sparks (my review). What do you think? Should Across the Universe count as time travel?????

Here's are two nicely contrasting reviews of A Long, Long Sleep at The Book Smugglers and at Book Monkey.

Note on age: although the characters are teenagers falling in love, there's nothing that should bring a blush to a young YA reader's checks.

(review copy received from the publisher)


  1. I would consider Across the Universe as time travel as Amy travels to another time. Just my opinion.

  2. I should go back and revisit it, Natalie--I started reading it at a crazier than usual point in my life, and never finished...but if I count it as time travel, that bumps it up in the queue!


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