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Review: Where Sleeping Girls Lie by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

Where Sleeping Girls Lie by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

Where Sleeping Girls Lie
Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé
Feiwel & Friends
Published March 19, 2024

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About Where Sleeping Girls Lie

In Where Sleeping Girls Lie — a YA contemporary mystery by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé, the New York Times-bestselling author of Ace of Spades — a girl new to boarding school discovers dark secrets and coverups after her roommate disappears.

It’s like I keep stumbling into a dark room, searching for the switch to make things bright again…

Sade Hussein is starting her third year of high school, this time at the prestigious Alfred Nobel Academy boarding school, after being home-schooled all her life. Misfortune has clung to her seemingly since birth, but even she doesn’t expect her new roommate, Elizabeth, to disappear after Sade’s first night. Or for people to think Sade had something to do with it.

With rumors swirling around her, Sade catches the attention of the girls collectively known as the ‘Unholy Trinity’ and they bring her into their fold. Between learning more about them—especially Persephone, who Sade is inexplicably drawn to—and playing catchup in class, Sade already has so much on her plate. But when it seems people don’t care enough about what happened to Elizabeth, it’s up to she and Elizabeth’s best friend, Baz, to investigate.

My Review

I really appreciated the author’s note at the front of the ARC of this book. It explains some of the author’s goals in writing the story, from characters living beyond their trauma to celebrating platonic friendships to talking about feeling unseen and unheard as a person of color at a private, white institution.

There’s no doubt in my mind that Àbíké-Íyímídé is a brilliant writer. In some of the scenes in this book, you could cut the tension with a knife. The characters feel so real, from the soft, sweet goofy ones, to the powerful, sinister ones.

I worked my way through this book slowly because of the heavier content. One thing I appreciated is that it doesn’t show graphic details of people being harmed. We understand what has happened. It’s jarring. Shocking. But the person involved retains her privacy. As someone who really struggled with stories like this, I appreciated that.

The book doesn’t have a neat, tidy ending either. I also appreciated that. Real life is messy. Complicated. Recovery is messy and complicated. The book makes space for that and allows the characters to celebrate in some ways while acknowledging the mountains yet to be climbed and wrongs yet to be righted.

All in all, I’d call this a haunting tale told with great care for its readers. Those looking for an unflinching story examining the fallout of unchecked toxic masculinity will find it here.

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 16 up.

Sade is Black, Muslim, and queer. A couple other characters are queer as well. Other characters in the book are BIPOC.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used somewhat infrequently.

Romance/Sexual Content
References to sexual assault. Descriptions are unsettling but not graphic, focusing on details aside from the assault itself. Kissing between two girls.

Spiritual Content
Sade does not drink alcohol as part of her faith practice.

Violent Content
References to assault and murder. Sade sees a dead girl in the water when she closes her eyes. Late in the book, a few quick scenes show people fighting. A boy attacks a girl.

See spoiler section below for some darker content.

Drug Content
Teens drink alcohol at a few parties and gatherings. Sade does not drink because of her religious practice. Someone gives drugs to other students without their knowledge or consent.

Note: This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use but help support this blog. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.


A group of boys uses a private chat channel to share private sexual images of and videos of girls. Some of these were collected without the girl’s consent. At least one member of the group assaults multiple girls (mostly happens off-scene). Several adults appear to cover up the boys’ bad behavior.