We Shall Not All Sleep

Written by Estep Nagy
Review by Gwen Sly

Off the coast of the main in Estep Nagy’s debut novel lies Seven Island. The Hillsinger and the Quick families have each had houses on the island for generations; as long as the houses have existed together on the island, so has the rift between the families, an albatross passed down around the necks of the individual family members for years. It is no different now, in 1964, though their families are intertwined more than ever before as Jim Hillsinger and Billy Quick each married into the same family, the Blackwells. As their individual stories unfold over the course of three days during one summer on Seven Island, the reader begins to understand the depth of the complexities and relationships between the various members, how deeply the rift is felt, and how that is already affecting the younger generations coming up behind them.

At times this is a wonderful family epic, and at others a strange and almost mystical Lord of the Flies experience of a read. It did not seem as though Nagy could decide the exact direction he wanted to go with his storylines, and so as a result they did not come together as neatly as one would hope; at times the path was confusing and disorienting. While a map of Seven Island and the surrounding islands is included at the beginning, there is no family tree, which would be highly beneficial to more fully understand the various family relationships.

As a debut novel, however, the book shows promise for future publications, and I would even be interested in reading more about the rival families in either a prequel or a sequel which is not something I generally feel. Recommended, though the various storylines might not work well for every reader.