Sleep in Me

Sleep in Me

Jon Pineda

American Lives Series

168 pages


March 2012


$14.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

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.

Author Bio

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


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

"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

“[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

“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

“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

“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

Table of Contents

1. Learning the Language
Beneath the Surface
An Almost Perfect Circle
First Time
The Clothespin
Altar Boys
II. An Endless Retelling
My Father, in Some Small Corner of Memory
An Entire Life Story, Instead of a Loaf of Bread
The First Dream
A Collective Forgetting
Human Chain
Great Bridge
The Same Expression
The Object of My Affection
III. The Unknowable Future
Brutal Pupil
Almost Morning
The Other Boy
Suspension of Disbelief
Hello Again
Flat Bottom
The Painting
Waiting for Sentences
Short Life
IV. Silver Plastic Suit
The Idea of Weight
Pensacola, by Way of New Orleans
Everything and Nothing
Just in Case
V. The Sky
The Wrong Bus
Another Homecoming
Old Nags Head Road


2010 Barnes & Noble Discover New Writers Selection
Named one of the top memoirs of 2010 by Library Journal

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