The main location from this story is Lucy’s home in Cicero, IL, which is a suburb located on the west side of Chicago, IL. What we don’t learn in the story is that the house was Grandma Fran’s family home. Luca, her adopted child and Lucy’s adopted father, inherits the home from her. While today the suburb is 88.9% Hispanic or Latino, before redlining, Cicero and the nearby Berwyn and Oak Park were a haven for ethnic Italians (today, the largest concentration lives in Elmwood Park and Melrose Park). This home was where Luca found family and safety for the first time in his life.
There are a number of locations around the city, some that repeat (like the Chicago Public Library where Lucy works) and a couple that make only one appearance (like the Washington/Wabash CTA platform, which was the filming location of While You Were Sleeping, though it has since been rebuilt).
Lucy travels a bit in the book, and while I have been to most of the locations she travels to, I also had to do a lot of research via the keyboard (we were in the middle of a global pandemic at the time of my writing this). I’m so thankful for things like Google Maps street view that allowed me to “walk” around New York City to find the café Lucy sits at while she waits for her brother and the building for her brother’s capstone project (where he gets to design a rooftop for sustainability, shown below). I got to walk around the historic village in North Carolina, Colonial Williamsburg, and find her birth parents’ childhood homes. All of the locations in the book are real – whether I’ve visited them in person or virtually.
This includes the locations in Scotland. In 2018, I was fortunate enough (after saving up for two and a half years and planning for months) to travel to Scotland and road trip 1200 miles with my bestie. I’ve written previously about my love of Scotland and how it was only a matter of time before it showed up in my writing, and this story turned out to be it. While we did spend time on Isle of Skye and a few other spots mentioned (Dunvegan, Talisker, Loch Ness, Stirling, Culloden), I didn’t get a chance to visit all the places in the story (Edinbane, Fairy Pools – both of which are first up if I ever get the chance to return). But they are all real places you can see – either in person or via Google.
Without the ability to research in this way, I imagine Lucy’s story would have been very different (and existed in a much smaller circle of locations). This goes for historical research, as well – such as the proper clothing for Malcolm to wear in his first appearance or the soldier on Culloden battlefield. Not to mention figuring out the family tree most plausible to end up with Lucy exactly where she is supposed to be.