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November’s theme is family, the kind we have, the kind we create and the kind that drive us crazy. For those of you who didn’t have a mother that loved you and didn’t make you watch While You Were Sleeping four point two billions times this movie is a story of love at second sight.
While You Were Sleeping follows Lucy Eleanor Moderatz, a young woman without family (and few friends) living in Chicago and working for the transit system. Every day she sees commuter Peter Callaghan, he’s gorgeous, he smells good and wears expensive clothes. Without a doubt she falls insanely in love with him despite never having said a word to him. On Christmas Day he is mugged and thrown on the tracks, Lucy witnesses what happens and jumps on the tracks to save him. She follows him to the hospital where a well meaning nurse hears her whisper the words “I’m going to marry him.” She introduces Lucy to the Callaghan family as Peter’s finance and Lucy is immediately engulfed in this huge, quirky, loving family. If having a (fake) finance in a coma wasn’t complicated enough she also has her neighbor Joe Fusco Jr pursuing her, and then she meets Peter’s brother… Jack.
This movie is the definition of family for me. It’s not only the glow I get when I watch the warm Callaghan family embrace Lucy, but I can’t watch it without thinking of my own mom. It’s her very favorite movie, we watch it every Christmas and maybe once or twice throughout the year. It makes me thinking of decorating Christmas cookies, popcorn and hot cocoa.
This entry is for my mom… who taught me how to love books, how to love family, and how to make the mashed potatoes so creamy.
If you loved Lucy’s personality try: Mansfield Park by Jane Austen (free on Kindle)
Or really, just about anything by Jane Austen. Austen loves the whole ” me thinks I might love one person but really it’s somebody else” thing. Mansfield Park is particularly appropriate for the While You Were Sleeping fan because of Fanny, a young lady born to a family of unfortunate circumstances. Her mother, once a gentlewoman, married beneath her now cannot afford Fanny. As a result she sends her to live with her rich family in the country and while Fanny’s cousins are not entirely cruel to her, they are not exactly kind either, save for the youngest Edmund. She and Edmund become close, develop a friendship, and Fanny begins to fall in love. But then siblings Mary and Henry Crawford enter the plot. Mary has her sights on Edmund, while Henry falls in love with Fanny.
This book works as a While You Were Sleeping parallel as Lucy and Fanny are cut from the same cloth. Both women are sweet, almost shy, but neither are pushovers and the reader will give a rousing cheer when they stand up for themselves. If you couldn’t get enough of Lucy, then you’ll find Fanny just as adorable.
If Austen’s language is too difficult to plow through give The Beresfords by Christina Dudley a try. It’s a modern adaptation of Mansfield Park.
If you wonder what it’s like to be Peter Callaghan try: Remember Me by Sophie Kinsella
I have a love/hate relationship with Sophie Kinsella. I find her characters to be… irritating. Somewhat immature, shrill, and generally somebody I’d want to throat punch if I overheard them talking in a bar. But without fail around chapter three I get sucked in and can’t put the book down. About three-quarters of the way through I still find the characters annoying, but more in that way you find your own family annoying. Sure, sometimes you want to slap them, but at the end of the day you love them. Kinsella’s ability to make me love and hate her characters has kept me reading her stories for over a decade.
This book in particular is a good read for the While You Were Sleeping addict. Lexie Smart wakes up in a hospital at the age of 28, she’s gorgeous, successful, rich, and married. This all sounds amazing except the last memory she has before she woke up is being 25, poor, a bit chubby with a snaggle tooth and a looser boyfriend. It would be, I’d imagine, how Peter Callahan felt when woke up with a new life and finance. It’s a cute, fun, easy read.
If you wish Lucy was a geeky man try: Attachments: A Novel by Rainbow Rowell
Lincoln is a geeky 20-something trying to figure out life. He has a job in cyber security at a newspaper, which means his entire day is reading his coworkers emails to make sure nobody is abusing the company email system. Enter Beth and Jennifer who both regularly abuse the company email system. For them work email is less for work and more of an instant message system where they talk about the details of their personal life. Lincoln reads the emails and knows he should issue them a slap on the wrist, but he soon finds he is falling in love with Beth.
Lincoln is a pretty decent rendition of a male Lucy. He’s a capable, handsome adult in his twenties who doesn’t really know where his life is leading. Also, like Lucy, he falls in love with somebody he has never really spoken to, somebody who has a life and a significant other.
Major kudos to Rowell for writing a chick-lit book from a male perspective. However… I have a couple of problems with the book. Lucy becomes enmeshed in Peter’s life by accident. Lincoln; however, becomes enmeshed with Beth because he begins to mildly stalk her. Not in a malicious super creepy hang outside your bedroom window way, but enough that it makes me a little uncomfortable. About a third of the book is in email form as you read the emails Beth and Jennifer send back and forth, if that kind of thing annoys you skip this book
If you loved the variety of men and characters try: Lucy Sullivan Is Getting Married by Marian Keyes
Lucy Sullivan is in her mid twenties with a dead in job, roommates, and no boyfriend. Her co-workers urge her to see a psychic who informs her before a year is out she will be married. Naturally Lucy is skeptical, but then interesting men of all varieties and sizes begin to enter her life and she wonders if any of them could be the future Mr Lucy Sullivan.
Keyes also has this fabulous ability to write really rich three dimensional characters. One of the beautiful features of the film is the Callaghan family and how diverse and quirky they are. Keyes, characters have a very similar feel of being both complex and beautiful.
This book also works for the While You Were Sleeping junky because there are so many good choices. Lucy Moderatz goes from having no choices to Peter who is handsome but vain, Jack who is fun but a pain in the ass, and Joe Jr who is… persistent. Lucy Sullivan faces a similar cast of men with good and bad features, proving love is always more complicated than you think.
If you wished it was a little deeper try: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
Will Traynor was once a very active man who is now wheelchair bound after a devastating accident. Louisa Clark is a woman living an ordinary life when she finds herself unemployed and in need of work. Will’s mom, hoping to pull him out of a depression, hires Lou hoping her lively spirit will cheer him up. At first they despise each other, then slowly a friendship, and finally love.
A side storyline that always caught me in While You Were Sleeping was Lucy’s father giving her the world. Lucy has had a passport most of her adult life but has never received a stamp in it. In a confrontational scene between her and Jack he calls her out on planning trips she’ll never take and not really living her life. This is such a great parallel for who Lou is and what Will encourages her to do I had to include it in the list.
A bit of a warning though, while this is a love story it deals with issues surrounding assisted suicide, depression, disability and hopelessness. If you purely want a fluffy fun read I’d choose one of the other books.