'While you were dreaming' (not to be confused with 'While you were sleeping') is the second book from author of 'By the time you read this story' Lola Jaye. It is a beautiful 'chicklit' book centred around the bond between sisters. Main character Lena has always been the strongest, sensible sister of three who has taken responsibility. I like the phrases Jaye uses to describe this character. Middle sister Cara is a married, breadwinner running a bar with her husband. Will children be on the cards? This character explores the issues career women may experience. Finally, happy go lucky younger sister Millie who is jobless and has a series of relations with men. Lena who is central to this story has an accident and remains in hospital in a coma. Whilst in hospital her sister's restore their relationship and rediscover the joys of family.
This book is warm, funny and in parts brings a tear to your eye. Perfect size for reading on your holidays or on public transport!
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I've got to be honest, I did not expect to enjoy this book. It screamed "chick lit" at me but a friend had told me I would enjoy it so I decided to read the first couple of chapters and if I found it too fluffy or full of unrealistically rich and beautiful people I would give myself permission to give up. However I was pleasantly surprised to discover that this book had a lot more to offer that I expected, so I stand corrected.
There is a chick lit element to it, I can't deny that. So if you like chick lit you'll probably like this. But if you like an easy to read, well written, not too taxing story then this might be for you aswell. The main character is Lena, who is the sensible one out of herself and her siblings. There's Millie, the youngest, beautiful and laidback but also lazy - never managing to hold a job down - and always jumping from man to man. And there's Cara, a successful businesswoman but so hard edged and ruthless that she comes across as heartless. Lena is the glue that holds the sisters together but when she ends up in a coma after an accident, her sisters find themselves in freefall. How will they manage without Lena? As the story progresses Cara and Millie learn things about themselves that they never knew, as well as discovering that their quiet sister had a few secrets of her own!
It's hard to get to know Lena as a character as she falls into a coma almost as soon as the story starts! Therefore we only see her through her sisters' eyes and of course they see her as more or less perfect. So it is interesting to learn a bit more about her as her secrets are revealed, although I never felt that I got to know the real her. She comes across as a nice person though - selfless and giving, always there for her sisters who seemed to take a lot more than they ever gave back to her. Cara is quite an uptight and angry person, well written as it is easy to see the tension that exists inside her. I found her hard to relate to at times as I couldn't identify with how she dealt with some situations although she mellows towards the end of the story. Millie is fun-loving and a bit ditzy. She's the kind of person that would be fun to have as a friend - indeed she reminds me of one of my good friends! Really attractive but so clueless at times, and always picking the wrong men!
The other main character is Michael, who had encountered Lena before her accident. Michael has a somewhat boring and, to him, pointless life. However after meeting Cara and Millie and finding out more about Lena, he uses her as a catalyst to start making changes in his life. In some ways I found him the most interesting character as it was interesting to see the changes he started to make in his life. He is a flawed yet likeable character.
The plot unfolds in an easy yet not too obvious way and I found the book was written in a light and engaging style. Unlike typical chick lit there is very little romance in it - which I was pleased about as I'm not a romance fan! - instead its more about family relationships, taking people for granted and making the most of life.
I would recommend this book as a holiday read in particular. I've given it 4 stars as I really enjoyed it, but knocked one star off because I felt I never got to know Lena as a character as much as I would have liked.
A couple of months ago, I randomly joined (yet another) book site called book army.com which allows readers to swap information on their best and worst reads with other members. Through this site, I recommended a few "like for like" books and, somehow, won a competition for these recommendations! One of the prizes was this book from an author I've never heard of. I do sometimes enjoy the odd bit of "chick lit" although it is not my favourite genre and the story sounded quite interesting from the back cover, so not one to turn down a free read, I delved right in....
Lena is the sensible one out of her siblings and always looks out for her sisters Millie - beautiful but lazy and easily distracted by a string of men - and Cara who runs a successful business and doesn't seem to have a lot of time for anyone.
Both girls realise the importance of Lena in their lives when she is suddenly taken into hospital and remains In a coma after an accident. The sisters realise how much Lena was there from them and discover their own faults - as well as finding out that Lena had a few secrets of her own!
This book is billed as a heart warming tear jerker, and although it didn't make me cry (I'm not really the emotional type when it comes to these books!), I can certainly say without hesitation that it is certainly a fun, heart warming and enjoyable page turner.
Lena's character barely says 2 words before she is sent into a coma, but as the lynch pin of the story, it is impossible not to warm to this character when seen through the eyes of her two sisters and Michael, a man that has only met her for a few moments but has fallen in love with her. She is utterly dependable, loving and devoted to her family. Lena is a character that is easily taken advantage of. Through the sisters memories, the reader gets a glimpse of how devoted Lena can be, always giving so selflessly but allowing her sisters to get away with everything from forgetting her birthday plans, to even remembering or wanting to listen to the smallest detail of Lena's life. I could imagine that a situation like this would throw a whole different light onto life and make the people involved want to change their outlook when it comes to loved ones. This book did exactly that through all the remaining characters involved in Lena's life.
A commitment phoebe; handsome but drifting through life and utterly miserable. When he meets Lena and hears about her accident, her sisters memories of Lena make him want to change his life for the better. Michael is an extremely likeable character, realistic with many flaws but the ability to be completely loveable! He wants to help his sister out who is struggling with two children and he wants to make something of his life but he doesn't know how. His situation was so completely realistic it was easy to sympathise with his situation.
A character I struggled with; unlike Michael, I couldn't empathise with her situation and really struggled with liking her at all at the beginning of the book. She is beautiful and successful with a partner that adores her but she is the type of woman that wants more and doesn't really consider anyone else. Her character, not only with Lena, but also with her husband, is selfish, snappy and appears angry all the time. For this reason, she didn't really hold my interest and I often found myself becoming annoyed and impatient with the way in which she dealt with things.
Millie is definitely the typical "chick lit" character. Gorgeous and unlucky in love, she always picks the wrong men and becomes to clingy to quickly. As a result, I warmed to her immediately - as a woman I could completely empathise with her bewilderment of the opposite sex and I have many friends who exact replicas of Millie! In fact, I want some of them to read about how she developed through the book; I've often questioned why such beautiful friends could make such silly mistakes and not find the right man and Millie sums this up for half the women out there!
Overall, this was an excellent, easy-reading book from an author that I had never heard of. There was enough romance in a "While You were Sleeping" way between Michael and Lena but actually this story was more about family relationships and appreciating what you have got. I think it struck the perfect tone without going into over-the-top territory!