Sleeping Arrangements – by Laura Shaine Cunningham – independent book review – Historical Fiction (Memoir)

A loving memoir from a New York City writer about her unconventional childhood and what exactly defines family. Awarded three stars on Goodreads but 3.5 stars is probably more accurate.

It’s a challenge to write a review of this book without including spoilers. So, let me just write that author Laura Shaine Cunningham begins life in the years following World War II, with her single mother, in a series of cramped spaces and under difficult economic circumstances. The two are devoted to one another.

When the mother becomes ill, Laura (called Lilly in the novel) winds up in the care of two uncles, both single. Together, and with no experience, the uncles move in and create an unusually quirky home for a young girl, full of imaginative play and steady support.

Eventually, the uncles’ mother (Laura’s grandmother), an old Russian Jew, comes to live with the trio. And she is a character worth waiting for. (I could read the book again just to revisit the passages about her.) And the story follows Lilly until she becomes an adult.

Though I didn’t find the book as wonderful as the blurbs promised, I’m glad I read it. It’s a lovely story and there will be moments you will likely envy Lilly’s hard luck life.

The author is especially gifted in re-creating a believable world of young girls at play, some of which brought back memories for me. And demonstrates the world of children who grow up with limited parental supervision. Very different from the helicopter parents we read about today.

More about the Author, Laura Shaine Cunningham.

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