What would you do if you never had to sleep again? For Eric Lederer, the title character in D.C. Pierson’s “The Boy Who Couldn’t Sleep and Never Had To,” never sleeping means plenty of time to pursue his interests – from science fiction and video games to riding the bus through the sleeping town. Not even his parents know about Eric’s condition, and eventually he confesses his secret to his best friend, Darren.
At first, Darren sees Eric’s sleeplessness as a superpower. (In one especially funny scene, Darren persuades Eric to take a roofie to see whether he’ll be able to fall asleep under the influence of a powerful sedative.) But when Eric’s secret gets out, Darren will do whatever it takes to protect his friend.
“The Boy Who Couldn’t Sleep and Never Had To” is really Darren’s story – the story of a teenage boy who spends most of his time creating and inhabiting elaborate fantasy worlds, and who discovers that the real world contains stranger and more terrifying things than he had ever imagined. Despite its fantastic elements, this is really a story about growing up and learning that the choices you make can affect the people you care about. It is also hilarious – it made me laugh so much I had to go read it in the living room so that my husband could sleep. Pick it up if you’re a fan of coming-of-age stories like Jonathan Lethem’s “The Fortress of Solitude” and Michael Chabon’s “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay” – and be prepared to miss some sleep yourself, since you might have to stay up all night to find out what happens next.