THE BOY WHO COULDN’T SLEEP by DC Pierson
” A thousand cartoons and TV shows and teen movies would lead you to believe that when youâre drawing something at your desk in school, a pretty girl is going to say âWhat are you drawing?â and youâll tell her and sheâll go âThatâs neatâ and your artistry will reveal to her the secret sensitivity in your soul and sheâll leave her football-player boyfriend for you. These cartoons and TV shows and teen movies are wrong.â
Review by Mike Frechette (FEB 6, 2010)
Darren Bennett likes to draw. This hobby makes him insecure 1) because heâs a sophomore in high school and heâs insecure about everything, and 2) because he knows that whatever he draws will result in a false label: âIf youâre drawing the female figure, youâre a pervert. If youâre drawing the male figure, youâre gay. If youâre drawing superheroes and havenât gotten around to drawing the masks or capes or whatever yet, youâre gay.â Nevertheless, it provides a fantastical escape from his increasing isolationism in an unremarkable Arizona suburb where he lives with his good-natured but neglectful father and complete hooligan of a brother, an arrangement that resulted when his âmom kind of went haywire.â When fellow outcast Eric Lederer compliments one of Darrenâs drawings after class, a friendship forms that leads to âthe biggest mistake of [his] lifeâ and perhaps the worst false label of all. From a perfectly executed prologue to a thrilling sci-fi finish, DC Piersonâs debut novel will undoubtedly captivate readers and remind them of the limitless potential of the coming-of-age novel.
The book is called The Boy Who Couldnât Sleep and Never Had To, a mouthful of a title to be sure. However, the plot and prose move quickly, sustained by an original voice that embodies the essence of the contemporary adolescent experience â the parlance, the peer pressure, the drugs, the angst, the awkwardness around girls. At the same time, Darren and especially Eric possess a precocious, sarcastic wit that will engage a broad adult reading audience as well. Their nerdy, adolescent ineptness together with their mature humor makes for a great combination and stands out as the novelâs most endearing quality. In a pitiful attempt to prank Darrenâs brother and his friends, Darren and Eric collect cheese slices, eggs, and rope, a hodgepodge of items that âmakes it pretty clear [theyâve] never gotten revenge on anybody.â When Eric sees this, he realizes, âIt looks like weâre going to make an omeletâŚrappel in through somebodyâs window, and serve it to them.â
Such mature wit â on Ericâs part at least â is due largely to the fact that he literally cannot sleep and never has â hence the title. Instead of sleeping, he spends his nights pursuing his interests, getting homework done in advance, learning, aging beyond his years. As Darren tells him, âYouâve been awake while the rest of us have been asleep. Youâve actually had more lifeâŚso youâre twice as old, in terms of experience. Youâre like thirty.â Such smarts make him a great creative partner for Darren as he attempts to develop a multimedia extravaganza for the sci-fi epic heâs been slowly piecing together in his imagination. For a jaded teenager like Darren, Eric is not just a friend but âa signifier that anything can be realâ â that superpowers are possible. On the flipside, he bears the burden of ongoing consciousness. As Darren later realizes, âthe poor kid has to live through everything.â
Besides that, the subconscious energy expended by all other people during dreams is expressed by Eric in painful, waking hallucinatory episodes. When he starts helping Darren with his sci-fi epic, the characters and storylines become more than just words and images on a page during these hallucinations. Meanwhile, a strange man claiming to be from a local church begins pursuing Eric when he discovers through Darrenâs brother that Eric does not sleep. What Darren and Eric begin to question is just how powerful the imagination is and the very nature of reality itself.
Sustaining a literary career is difficult work, but DC Pierson is off to a good start. With youth and creativity stacked in his favor (he just graduated from college in 2007), he holds promise as a literary voice resembling Christopher Moore or Chuck Palahniuk. The Boy Who Couldnât Sleep is not just another book for the likes of Star Wars and Dungeons & Dragons enthusiasts (though it is that), but itâs also a profound, funny story about friendship, betrayal, and regret. The only regret in reading it is that the end comes too quickly, and we cannot continue with Darren to the next phase of his life. Maybe, like Darren and Ericâs project, itâs only a small piece of âa TV series culminating in a movie trilogy interspersed with books and graphic novels with any remaining holes in the epic filled in by a massively multiplayer online game.â Or maybe not. Either way, itâs still a really good book.
|AMAZON READER RATING:||from 47 readers|
|PUBLISHER:||Vintage; 1 edition (January 26, 2010)|
|AMAZON PAGE:||The Boy Who Couldn’t Sleep and Never Had To|
|AUTHOR WEBSITE:||DC Pierson|
|EXTRAS:||Excerpt and Author Interview|
|MORE ON MOSTLYFICTION:||More unique coming-of-age novels:
Wolf Boy by Evan Kuhlman
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon
- The Boy Who Couldn’t Sleep and Never Had To (January 2010)