Sleep in Me (American Lives ) (Paperback)

By Jon Pineda

University of Nebraska Press, 9780803243415, 168pp.

Publication Date: March 1, 2012

List Price: 14.95*
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Against the backdrop of his teenage sister’s car accident—in which a dump truck filled with sand slammed into the small car carrying her and her friends—Jon Pineda chronicles his sister Rica’s sudden transformation from a vibrant high school cheerleader to a girl wheelchair bound and unable to talk. For the next five years of her life, her only ability to communicate was through her rudimentary use of sign language. Lyrical in its approach and unflinching in its honesty, Sleep in Me is a heartrending memoir of the coming-of-age of a boy haunted by a family tragedy.

A prize-winning poet’s account of the irreparable damage and the new understanding that tragedy brings to his Filipino American family, Pineda’s book is a remarkable story maneuvering between childhood memories of his sister cheerleading and moments of monitoring her in a coma and changing her adult diapers. Pineda adeptly navigates between these moments of idyllic youth and heartbreaking sadness. Vivid and lyrical, his story is an exploration of what it means to live deeply with tragedy and of the impact such a story can have on a boy’s journey to manhood.

About the Author

Jon Pineda is an assistant professor of English at the University of Mary Washington and teaches in the MFA creative writing program at Queens University of Charlotte. He is the author of Apology: A Novel and three books of poetry, most recently Little Anodynes

Praise For Sleep in Me (American Lives )

“Pineda lays bare his struggles with family duty and identity in this literary standout.”—Julie Kane, Library Journal

— Julie Kane

"Sleep in Me is essentially pure rendered memory, a book that can be taken down from the shelf and opened to any chapter, any moment however random and fleeting, and can make us feel the grand weight of tragedy, and the victory when we fight it."--Noah Renn, Virginian-Pilot

— Noah Renn

“[Pineda’s] muted, lyrical messages, to be savored at length, remind us of the value of listening deeply, to ourselves and others.”—Gina Webb, Atlanta Journal-Constitution

— Gina Webb

“Pineda has built his reputation as a poet, but he expands his literary territory with this powerful portrait of love and loyalty between siblings.” —Rigoberto González, Critical Mass

— Rigoberto González

“A powerful survey of the impact of tragedy on a young boy’s coming of age in this outstanding, vivid family memoir.” —Diane C. Donovan, California Bookwatch

— Diane C. Donovan

“In this memoir Pineda explores the difference between self and sufferer—whether that sufferer is his sister or a wrestler he’s pinned or a fish or himself—and sometimes, most beautifully and wrenchingly, they merge.”—Disability Studies Quarterly