on July 23, 2003
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
on February 5, 2003
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.
on January 12, 2002
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.
on September 1, 2001
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.
on August 28, 2001
New mother Juliet Applebaum Wyeth needs sleep. Between ferrying her three year old to preschool and playdates and a newborn who wants to party all night, she hasn't had a decent night's sleep in four months. Her screenwriter husband is no help either. He is working on a new series with a nearly perfect Mindy as a partner. By a stroke of luck, Juliet finds a babysitter at the local kosher grocery, a young Hassidic girl named Fraydle. She does a wonderful job but doesn't show up the next day. Her family doesn't know where she is and Juliet is determined to find out the truth. I enjoyed this book. It combined three worlds I know little about, motherhood, Hollywood, and Hassidim. The mystery is very good and the characters very real. Enjoy.
on July 31, 2003
This book caught my eye because it somwhat delves into the Chasidic communities of L.A and New York. The book was a fast moving,light read. I did find myself compelled to read on to find out who killed the young Chasidic babysitter. My only complaint is I agree some other reviewers, most of it was unbelievable ( all the characters were SO willing to help our sleuth out, all detectives should be so lucky) and the ending left me thinking it even more unrealistic. But I guess sometimes unrealistic things can happen in real life too. Too much of it just feel into place too easily, it got rather hokey. But all in all I would have to say its worth my rating.
on May 21, 2003
I enjoyed this book more than I did the first one. I found it better written and the main character better developed, but maybe it just took a second book for the author to really define Juliet's personality. In this episode, Juliet's babysitter disappears and she feels responsible for finding out what happened to her. Her search leads her to the Hassidic community of New York and back to L.A. The book is interesting in its cultural descriptions in addition to the mystery itself. The only complaint I have is that the ending seemed rushed, as it did actually in the first book of this series; however, other than that, it was a fun and fairly quick read.
on September 2, 2001
I read this book in one sitting, and it is an enjoyable book. Juliet does grow on you; she's an intelligent woman and a likeable one. The plot did not have a lot of twists and turns but was rather straightforward and written with a definite sense of humor. I did enjoy the glimpse into Hassidic life, although I had some compassion for the situation some of the young people found themselves in.
I was a little bothered, however, by the obsession with breast feeding, which seems to take place every other paragraph. Juliet should lighten up on that subject. She'd be much better off.
on September 10, 2001
I felt kind of bad giving this book only four stars but I did only because I really didn't enjoy it as much as I did the first book by this author with this main character. I did enjoy this though,and hope the four stars doesn't turn you away. For anyone who likes this kind of novel, light humorous mystery with real people who just become a "detective" because of circumstances, than this series is for you. I am looking forward to her next one.
on May 16, 2003
I discovered this little book in a specialty bookstore in the Philippines and found it charming. Sometimes you need these quick reads. What's most remarkable though is that the author has exactly the same bio profile as the protagonist, and she's married to MICHAEL CHABON!
A mom and mystery-book lover