Sunday, 9 September 2018

Spotlight and Review: Sleeping Through War by Jackie Carreira

Sleeping Through War by Jackie Carreira

It is May 1968. Students are rioting, civil rights are being fought and died for, nuclear bombs are being tested, and war is raging in Vietnam. For three ordinary women in Lisbon, London and Washington life must go on as usual. For them, just to survive is an act of courage. How much has really changed in 50 years?

Sleeping Through War isn't at all what I expected, and I don't mean it in a negative way. It's unlike anything I've read before and I heartily enjoyed it. The narrative follows the lives of three women concurrently during a volatile period in world history.

Fascinating. I appreciated the detail the author poured into the narrative, focusing on the everyday lives of these women from differing backgrounds. In the beginning, I did wonder if their lives would connect at some point. However, as we begin to get to know them, it becomes clear their stories are unique and specific to them.

The time-line is short; merely three weeks during May 1968. It not only highlights the newsworthy events around the world during this time in history but what happens to three ordinary women and those close to them. The narrative highlights how within a short space of time, everything can change and not always for the better. As the stories about Amalia in Lisbon, Portugal, Mrs Johnson in Washington DC, US and Rose, newly arrived in London from St Lucia unfold, these women going about their everyday lives. They struggle just as much as those affected by the wars and demonstrations at this time, only their tragedies and difficulties never get heard.

As a reader, I loved the concept of Sleeping Through War. Although there isn't a physical link between these women they share a common link; all are trying their best to do what is right. One is writing to a son who is fighting in the Vietnam war. Another is trying her best to keep food on the table to care for her son after his father, her husband died fighting in the Angola War. Lastly, a lady newly arrived from the Caribbean who forms a friendship with a young single mother. Ms Carreira conveys their stories with compassionate insight.

Well researched, the writing is sublime as the narrative invites the reader to pause and think not only about these world events which occurred before many of us were born but to ponder and reflect upon everyday scenarios as relevant today as they were fifty years ago.

***arc generously received courtesy of the publisher Troubador***

Jackie Carreira is a writer, musician, designer, co-founder of QuirkHouse Theatre Company, and award-winning playwright. She mostly grew up and went to school in Hackney, East London, but spent part of her early childhood with grandparents in Lisbon's Old Quarter. Her colourful early life has greatly influenced this novel. Jackie now lives in leafy Suffolk with her actor husband, AJ Deane, two cats and too many books.