5.0 out of 5 stars Strong Second Mystery
Stay at home mom Juliet Applebaum is struggling to adjust to the birth of her second child, especially since 4 month old Isaac hardly sleeps at all. She finally hires a young Chasidic girl from her neighborhood to baby sit for a couple hours each day. But after the first day, the girl vanishes. Against all reason, Juliet finds herself drawn to find this young woman,...
Published on June 19 2004 by Mark Baker
3.0 out of 5 stars appealing heroine makes this novel enjoyable
"The Big Nap" is an enjoyable read if you're looking for a novel that possesses a brave and resilient heroine who is good with snappy comebacks, and who possesses a rather wicked sense of humour. However, if you're looking for a really good mystery novel that will tease 'the little gray cells' with its plot twists and is chock full of suspicious suspects and red...
Published on July 23 2001 by tregatt
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5.0 out of 5 stars Strong Second Mystery,
Stay at home mom Juliet Applebaum is struggling to adjust to the birth of her second child, especially since 4 month old Isaac hardly sleeps at all. She finally hires a young Chasidic girl from her neighborhood to baby sit for a couple hours each day. But after the first day, the girl vanishes. Against all reason, Juliet finds herself drawn to find this young woman, especially after her parents refuse to call the police. But what could make her run away? And can Juliet find her while juggling an infant, pre-school, and her husband's strange work schedule?
I enjoyed the first book in this series but felt it had some flaws. This book was much stronger and the same flaws didn't plague this book. It has a fun sense of humor, and while I felt Juliet complained a bit too much at times, I appreciated her love for her family which still came through. The plot is better developed here, although why this woman would search for this girl is beyond me. Even Juliet acknowledges that it doesn't make much sense.
I'm glad I've been collecting the paperbacks as they've come out. I won't wait so long to revisit Juliet and her family.
1.0 out of 5 stars Misinformed,
Ayelet Waldman certainly seems to hold promise as a writer, but first she must learn to check her facts. The entire plot of this book is based on the most ridiculous stereotypes and misconceptions about the Hasidic Jewish community. As someone raised without much Jewish knowledge at all, then adopted an Orthodox Hasidic life as an adult, I feel I can and must caution readers. While the questions and concerns voiced by the book's protaganist, Juliet, are thoughtful and valid, Waldman's answers sadly are not. Among these: That Hasidic women are forced to marry. That a girl's thoughts and feelings are, as a rule, not taked into account. That men "rule" and women merely "comply". That Freydel's father, an important leader, would DARE to treat someone like Juliet with such arrogance, distrust and hostility as described here, and get away with it! The list goes on.... PLEASE do not use this book as an insight into Hasidic Jewish life. A wonderful academic (and readable) book has just been published and is respected very much by "both sides"--Hasidic people and others: Mystics, Mavericks, and Merrymakers: An Intimate Journey Among Hasidic Girls by Stephanie Wellen Levine, Carol Gilligan (Hardcover - November 2003). Your money (and curiosity!) would be better spent here.
4.0 out of 5 stars Sleep Deprivation is a Killer!,
In the 2nd book in the Mommy Track Mystery series by Ayelet Waldman, Juliet Applebaum is the sleep deprived mother of four-month-old son, Isaac, and three-year-old daughter, Ruby. To help get some much-needed sleep, she hires a baby-sitter to watch her children for a couple of hours. When the baby-sitter, Fraydle, vanishes after only one day on the job, Juliet cannot imagine what has happened to her. Juliet knows her kids are a bit hard to handle, but she cannot envision that it was her kids that ran Fraydle out of town. When Fraydle's Hasidic Jewish family asks for help in finding the missing girl, Juliet simply cannot keep her nosy nature out of the picture. Did Fraydle run away to be with an Israeli boy or was she married off to a strict Hasidic family? Or did something more sinister happen? Juliet tries to solve the case while working on less than 3 hours of sleep per night, and her sense of humor and fearlessness lead her to finding the truth about this case of the missing baby-sitter.
Like others have said, I enjoyed this book in the series better than I had the previous book. Even though Juliet is a bit whiny (and I definitely blame her lack of sleep for this) in the book, she was still humorous and completely human. She is a bit flip about many aspects of motherhood, but shows love and devotion to her family at the same time. What set this book apart from other mysteries is that there was no dead body, and for most of the book, Juliet could not figure out why Fraydle was missing. This added a bit of suspense in that I was never sure if she would be found dead or alive. The ending was a surprise, and I am looking forward to reading other books in this series.
The first book in this series is "Nursery Crimes". Enjoy!
A Cozy Lover
4.0 out of 5 stars A Fast and Entertaining Read,
The Big Nap is the second novel in Waldman's Mommy-Track mysteries, and is as cute as the first one.
Juliet Applebaum, former public defender, Harvard Law school graduate, full-time mom and part-time detective finds herself entangled in yet another adventure.
After her new babysitter disappears, Juliet attempts to find some answers, while juggling her two kids, her possibly errant husband, and her insecurities about herself and motherhood. The book races from one scene to the next, making for a fast and amusing read and leaving no time for boredom. The book ends with a rather shocking and poignant finale, with all the loose ends neatly tied together.
Alongside the mystery at the heart of the book, Waldman touches on serious themes including arranged marriages, conservative Judaism, and homosexuality. She still manages to retain the light-heartedness of the book, and she neither gets too preachy nor turns the novel into a morality play. She manages, mostly successfully, to intersperse humour alongside some of the more serious issues dealt with in the novel.
If you're looking for a fast-paced mystery, with lots of comic relief, yet still dealing with important themes (if a little superficially), this is definitely the book for you.
2.0 out of 5 stars Cheap mind candy,
The "Mommy-Track" mysteries are less than lightweight entertainment. Like butter-flavored popcorn and orange soda at the movie theater, they seem to taste good going down, but they inevitably lead to a stomachache. The writing is uninspired and downright sloppy in places, and Juliet Applebaum is just not that likeable. I'm guessing that Waldman expects to find a niche with female readers who share some of her protagonist's ambivalence about stay-at-home-motherhood. But when the public defender turned reluctant stay-at-home mom turned amateur sleuth settled her preschool daughter in front of PBS for the umpteenth time while she called former colleagues, surfed the net, and visited convicts (all in the name of solving the murder of a woman she had met exactly once!), Waldman lost me.
In The Big Nap, Juliet breaks down in a Jewish grocery store, the hapless victim of sleep deprivation. The store tender suggests that her niece babysit for the distraught mother a few hours each morning. The beautiful young babysitter performs her duties exactly once, then disappears. Of course, Juliet is compelled to solve the mystery of the girl's disappearance - with her four-month-old son and preschool daughter in tow.
Bleah. Too many scenes of Juliet "struggling into black leggings." Too many scenes in which the former lawyer leaves her young children in the car (!) while she talks to her leads. Too much television-as-babysitter. And the dialogue between the protagonist and her husband left me wondering how we were to believe this fictional couple made their children.
I love a little mind candy now and then, just love it. But this wasn't M&Ms, folks. It was the stuff that the neighbors you don't like give out on Halloween - cheap, stale, hardly worth opening.
4.0 out of 5 stars Funny and entertaining "Mommy-Track" mystery,
The protagonist of Ayelet Waldman's "The Big Nap" is Juliet Applebaum, a graduate of Harvard Law and a former public defender. After marrying the love of her life, Peter, she moves to Los Angeles. Unfortunately, Juliet rarely sees Peter anymore, since he is busy most of the time developing a television pilot. Juliet is now a stay-at-home mom, who dearly loves her adorable three-year-old daughter, Ruby, and her four-month-old son, Isaac. However, Juliet is suffering from acute sleep deprivation, leaking nipples and a lack of adult conversation.
So what's an overtired and understimulated mother to do? Butt into other people's business, of course! Juliet delves into the diappearance of an eighteen-year-old Chasidic girl named Fraydle Finkelstein, who baby sat for Juliet's kids on one occasion, and who then disappeared without a trace.
Juliet uses her investigative powers, her contacts from her working days as a lawyer, and her innate nosiness to solve the question of what happened to Fraydle. Did the girl run away to avoid an arranged marriage she didn't want? Or did something more sinister happen to her? Since her parents refuse to report Freydle's disappearance to the police, Juliet feels that it is her duty to investigate.
When Juliet visits her mother and father in New Jersey, she even takes a side trip to Borough Park, Brooklyn. She interviews Freydle's prospective bridegroom, and little by little, she fits the pieces together until, voila, she solves the crime.
Waldman has a wry and clever sense of humor, and there are many laugh-out-loud passages in "The Big Nap." In fact, the first page has such a funny scene that I laughed out loud on a public bus and drew puzzled looks from my fellow passengers. Waldman's takes on breastfeeding, sleep-and-husband deprivation, weight gain after pregnancy and a mother's love-hate relationship with her small children are not only funny but real.
The mystery is not too believable, nor is it realistic that any Chasid would give Juliet the time of day, much less reveal any inside information to her. However, the conceit of mysteries like this is that people talk to the investigator, even if she has no business asking any questions in the first place.
However, Waldman nicely describes some of the dynamics of the Chasidic community from the vantage point of a non-Orthodox Jew. The mystery is engrossing, if somewhat far-fetched, and you could do worse than spend an afternoon with the amusing Juliet Applebaum, mommy and sleuth.
3.0 out of 5 stars appealing heroine makes this novel enjoyable,
"The Big Nap" is an enjoyable read if you're looking for a novel that possesses a brave and resilient heroine who is good with snappy comebacks, and who possesses a rather wicked sense of humour. However, if you're looking for a really good mystery novel that will tease 'the little gray cells' with its plot twists and is chock full of suspicious suspects and red herrings, then this novel may be a bit of a disappointment.
Juliet Applebaum is discovering to her horror that she does not possess the stuff that super moms are made of: her 4 month old son, Issac, seems to given up on the concept of sleep completely, and Juliet feels as if she has been hanging on (barely) with a mere 15 minutes off sleep per day. One day, it all becomes too much for her, and she finds herself breaking down into tears at a gocery store. The owner of the store, kindly Nettie Tanenbaum, immediately takes Juliet under her wing and more or less forces Juliet to hire her niece, Fraydle Finklestein, as her new nanny. And for the first time things seems to be really working out for Juliet. She gets to have a couple of hours of sleep, and feels really energized and optimistic about things (even the extra pounds she's put on and has yet to shed). But the next day, Fraydle fails to turn up, and Juliet discovers that Fraydle's parents think that she's runaway from home. But they refuse to call in the police because firstly, they belong to a strict orthodox Jewish sect and would rather handle matters themselves rather than rely on "outsiders;" and secondly, because the Finklesteins had arranged an advantageous marriage for Fraydle with a prominent New York Hasidic Jewish family, and they don't want any scandal to jeopardize this marriage. Juliet finds it hard to understand their attitude, and she's really afraid that Fraydle could be in some kind of trouble. So, in spite of Mr. Finkelstein's warnings, Juliet starts an all out search for Fraydle. What could have happened to Fraydle? Juliet knows that Fraydle has (unbeknowst to her family) an Israeli boyfriend, but he denies any knowledge of Fraydle's whereabouts. Did Fraydle run away? Is she in some kind of trouble? And why are the Finklesteins so reluctant to involve the police in Fraydle's disappearance? Soon, Juliet begins to fear that Fraydle may not be found alive at all...
"The Big Nap" is an enjoyable read esp for it's humourous takes on L.A. living -- the Hollywood glamour, the quest for thinness, etc. And Juliet Applebaum is an appealing heroine. However the resolution of the mystery of the missing Fraydle, left me reeling. The novel was moving along nicely, when suddenly, Juliet had the answer; and while it made sense once all was explained, the manner at which she came by the solution, left me feeling a little short changed. So here's my take on this novel: enjoy the book for its humourous and snappy asides, and for its vivid character portrayals, and for it's engaging heroine, because mystery-wise, it is a bit of a let down.
5.0 out of 5 stars A fun read,
Juliet Applebaum studied extra hard and for long hours at Harvard to become a lawyer. However, to her own amazement and to the shock of her spouse, she quits her profession to stay home as a full-time mother. On a good night, her youngest child Isaac sleeps perhaps for ten minutes all evening (a slight exaggeration except when you're the parent with no sleep). Her spouse is not home to provide Juliet with any help with the wide-awake child. Suffering from sleep depravation, Juliet accepts the services of Hasidic Jew Fraydle.
Fraydle's baby-sitting allows Juliet to obtain some decent sleep. However, when the girl fails to return Juliet tries to learn why only to find out Fraydle is missing. Worried as time passes with no word, Juliet visits New York where her baby-sitter's fiance lives (as well as her own parents), but obtains nothing new. Juliet returns to Los Angeles where she realizes that Fraydle has a secret lover here in California who might have answers.
The trails and tribulations of a mother with a restless newborn and an older preschooler add a unique feel to a fascinating story line. Readers also obtain a glimpse into the social and cultural life of a Hasidic Jew, a group who isolate themselves from the rest of society. This adds an additional uniqueness to the entreating BIG NAP. Juliet is a modern heroine refusing to quit or take another snooze until she feels justice is properly served.
4.0 out of 5 stars A DELIGHT!,
I must admit I never wanted to give up my career to stay at home with a baby or two! I would have gone nuts! The frustrations felt by Juliet were just too realistic. They must be borne out of real life for the former public defender. I had a newborn a few years back. He didn't sleep much either, as I recall. I hurried back to work to get some rest! Juliet is hilarious, spending a fortune on an outfit for the party given by her husband's perky partner, Mindy, so that she will look "fabulous." Of course, Juliet forgets to wear her nursing pads under the outfit, so has to hide out in the kitchen much of the time. I enjoyed learning about the Hasidic customs. The mystery surrounding the disappearance of Fraydle gave Juliet something on which to exercise her gray matter when she wasn't trying to capture a few minutes of shut-eye! A delightful read. And short enough to read in a day.
5.0 out of 5 stars THE BIG NAP is a Big Success,
As a mystery writer with my debut book in its initial release, I noticed this new mystery because of its title--THE BIG NAP, a clever play on THE BIG SLEEP. The cleverness in this work doesn't stop with the title. While Ayelet Waldman's tone for the most part is light, she addresses some serious themes here. Her sleuth, Juliet Applebaum, L.A. public defender turned stay-at-home mom, represents many contemporary women juggling the various facets of their overcrowded lives. Ms. Waldman has given us a first-rate mystery involving the disappearance of young Fraydle Finkelstein. She draws vivid contrasts between the worlds of conservative Judaism and Applebaum's liberal Hollywood style. All in all, Ms. Waldman has written a fine book here. You won't fall alseep reading THE BIG NAP.
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The Big Nap: A Mommy-Track Mystery by Ayelet Waldman (Hardcover - May 2004)
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