Sleepless by Romy Hausmann

Thank you to Joe Christie from Quercus for giving me the opportunity to join the blog tour and sending me an advance readers copy. All views are my own

Rating: 5 out of 5.

What if your friend would ask you for your help? Would you say yes even though you are in over your head? How far are you willing to go for your friendship? Would you help them cover up a murder?

Back in January I had come across a little book titled ‘Dear Child’. The cover was the first thing that drew me towards the novel, having never heard of its author, Romy Hausmann. January was a month where I wanted desperately to go back to my roots, to spending hours upon hours discovering the German literature in high school, reading the small printed Reklam Ausgaben that had the colorful covers that looked more like collectibles. I had instantly made a connection with Hausmann and after finishing Dear Child I had to write a review about it. Back then little did I know that Quercus probably had already started to work on Hausmann’s debut – Marta Schläft – and mentioned even in my review that I hoped this would be translated.

Of course I didn’t have any patience and had a friend of mine in Berlin go and buy the German edition of the book. ( I think that book got lost in transit since it never reached me in the UK -.-” ) But then I found out that Quercus was going to publish Marta Schläft (trans. Sleepless) and it was happening sooner than I thought. And I made myself a promise, that if a blog tour would be organised, I had to be part of it.

Thankfully and thanks to Joe Christie who was kind enough to make my dream come true, I was allowed to take part in the amazing blog tour for this novel and now the time has come for me to share my thoughts on Sleepless.

With a strong publishing debut, Hausmann solidifies her status as the Queen of German suspense; proving her skills and abilities as a writer.

Meine Gütte did I enjoy Sleepless. Usually when it comes to debuts, I spot from the very first few pages that this is the first book someone has written. However with Sleepless, I never had that feeling; Hausmann brilliantly executing a complex narrative told from three points of view and on three different timelines.

The story follows the events in the life of Nadja who has been raised in Poland but now lives in Berlin. Her childhood wasn’t the best but she is now ready (or at least to a certain degree) ready to leave the past in the past and focus on her future. She is living a some-what normal life. Nadja has a job, and an apartament, however living is not as easy as it is for others. Battling with mental health issues and anxiety, Nadja finds it at times difficult to go on the subway, doesn’t like large groups of people and in the eyes of others her living conditions aren’t the best.

But to a certain degree Nadja is on the path of getting better. That’s until her friend one day appears at her work and tells her she needs her help. Nadja doesn’t hesitate to help her and why should she? Her therapist had told her she needs to make connections, and build friendships. But with what her so called friend needs help with isn’t opening a jar or help clean out the house of unnecessary things that she gathered without noticing. It’s with hiding a body.

The story from here on unravels in rapid successions. Multiple POVs contribute to fill in the picture about Nadja’s past and how she got to be who she is today. I’m not going to spoil the ending but all I’m going to let you know is that it is worth every moment.

The way Hausmann structured the novel I think is genius. We start somwhere in the middle of the story, without any context. We don’t know what’s happening only that things are happening. I found the moment to open the story perfect because it gave plenty of time and opportunity to give sufficient information to the reader whilst allowing for the current timeline to flow naturally. It also helped the overall ARC of the story to avoid any soggy middles by turning up the dial on the tension in the present moment and making the readers ask themselves how someone cold end in such a terrible position.

Sleepless, if I hadn’t known it was Hausmann’s debut, I would have been certain that it was written by an experienced writer that has penned many novels before. Simply from the structure adopted, I can only imagine how a difficult of a task it has been for Hausmann to strike the perfect balance that she has achieved. Now, thinking back to it, I should’ve known that Hausmann is a master storyteller from reading the intricate and yet effortlessly executed Dear Child.

Sleepless is definitely a great read for anyone who wants to see what German thrillers are all about. And paired with Jamie Bulloch’s translation, it is a perfect read for new readers of translated fiction as well as hard core lovers of the genre. Sleepless is now out everywhere where good books are sold and you should definitely check it out.

Please make sure you check out the other amazing reviewers who are part of this blog tour as well as check out Duncan’s review from Fiction from Afar who is my go to person when it comes to translated fiction reviews.

Dear Child by Romy Hausmann

An Arc was sent to us by the publisher in exchange for an honest review of this book. Thank you to Quercus Books Publicity team for allowing us to read this and review it.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

What if you were a parent and your child would be missing for thirteen years? What would you do? Would you give up hope? Or would you try to convince everyone around you that your child is still alive?

What if you were a child and all you knew of a family are the two parents that live with you? Would you find it odd that it is always only your mother that is still there? Would you ask yourself if you didn’t know anything else if your parents are happy? Or would you cling the normality you’ve been brought up with?

What if you were kidnapped and would be forced to live your life in a cabin? Would you try to escape even though you are locked inside, and there are no windows? What about the two children that are with you? If you managed to escape would you take them with you? Or would you leave them behind?

Dear Child by Romy Hausmann tackles these questions head-on. The story is masterfully structured with fragments of the story given at the right time and the right place. Throughout reading the book, I realised more and more just how brilliant Hausmann pieced together everything for me, the reader. It was like seeing a puzzle being built in front of my eyes. Clinging to every word that she had set on paper, trying to see underneath it, to make sure there were no clues buried underneath. Although this is Hausmann’s debut on the English market, this is her second novel, her debut being Marta schläft (trans. Marta sleeps).

Romy Hausmann’s writing will wrap you and pull you in a story that would leave you brathless and wondering until the very end.

Originally published in Germany and topping the charts, Dear Child is the perfect psychological thriller for new readers to the genre that are looking to see what a good and well-written novel can do. Still, it also pleases the readers that love the genre because it hits all the right notes.

Translated by Jamie Bulloch, I believe that credit needs to be given where credit is due. Bulloch captures perfectly the tone set by Hausmann and conveys it in English perfectly. Although the dialogue, to native English speakers, might sound off (or would require some adjusting to) I would remind them that the tonality and the structure are linked to it being a foreign book and needs to read as such.

I think—having studied German and living there—that Bulloch does amazingly and manages to make this translation make sense without sacrificing the german flair in which people would normally talk. This is noticeable, in my opinion in the way Matthias interacts with Gerd. Gerd being in the position of police officer there is an undertone of respect (even though Matthias disagrees strongly with the actions undertaken by the Police in the case of his missing daughter) when speaking with him.

But I digress. Dear Child is an instant favourite, which many will enjoy. The book is out with Quercus Books in the UK. Under normal circumstances, I would say that this book would be perfect for a holiday by the pool with the sun shining down on you. Still, regardless of where you are, Romy Hausmann’s writing will wrap you and pull you in a story that will leave you breathless and wondering until the very end.

I hope that Quercus will in the near future in translate Romy Hausmann’s debut novel, Marta schläft as well because I’m definitely in desperate need of more of her writing.