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Book Review - Dreamland

 Sunday, 25 July 2010

It's been like for-evah since I did a book review and I apologise for being such a failcake. I know I should do more reviews than I do now because I read at least two or three books a week so I should be churning out the reviews! *sigh*

Title: Dreamland
Author: Sarah Dessen
Date: 13/7/2010 AM
Source: Borrowed
Description: Strange, sleepy Rogerson, with his long brown dreads and brilliant green eyes, had seemed to Caitlin to be an open door. With him she could be anybody, not just the second-rate shadow of her older sister, Cass. But now she is drowning in the vacuum Cass left behind when she turned her back on her family's expectations by running off with a boyfriend. Caitlin wanders in a dream land of drugs and a nightmare of Rogerson's sudden fists, lost in her search for herself. (Taken from Goodreads)


Review: This was the last book of Sarah's which I hadn't read due to the egregious failure of her UK publishers which meant that when all her other books were reprinted last year with gorgeously funky covers Dreamland for some bizarre reason was left out. *confusion* So when Jess and I met up earlier last week she very kindly brought her copy for me to read while she was here. I devoured it within two hours but was so shellshocked by the end that I couldn't actually write up my reading journal entry afterwards. This was *nothing* like any of Sarah's other books, while they do all deal with serious issues i.e. divorce, teen pregnancy, rape etc. the experiences that Caitlin was going through felt so much more real and visceral that you get a clear look into what being in an abusive relationship is like for the girl on the inside. 


Caitlin is one of those girls who doesn't know quite who she is, as she's been compared to her older sister Cassandra all her life and has never had the chance to create her own identity separate from her. So when the story begins after Cass has ran away Caitlin suddenly has the opportunity to re-invent herself as the bold, new girl who goes out with edgy, dreadlocked guys like Rogerson (which I have to admit is a bit of a daft name- sorry). 


At first Rogerson seems fairly normal, yes he has some dubious habits involving drugs  but that doesn't immediately make him a villain because he treats Caitlin well when they first get together. He seems quite intense with his insane knowledge of trivia and his "never, ever be late" rule but you wouldn't immediately suspect his true nature.


The deceptive image of Rogerson even fools the reader for a while (unless of course you read the description above), so when he hits Caitlin for the first time it really does shock you with its suddenness and ferocity. Later on when you find out how his dad treats him you can understand why he discharges his own shame and anger onto Caitlin but of course this in *no* way excuses his actions it just makes him seem human, slightly. 


This is not the happy, summery, coming-of-age style of story that Sarah Dessen usually writes and I've seen some reviews that wonder why Caitlin didn't just tell someone and get out. I can't make any judgement on Caitlin because I've never been in her situation but I imagine that the mixture of fear and affection for the person who is simultaneously loving and hurting you makes it very hard to escape the vicious cycle of violence and subsequent apology that Caitlin goes through in Dreamland.


I can't say that I enjoyed reading this, since it's not a book to enjoy as such - it's a book that demands reading for the learning experience so that maybe another girl can avoid her own Rogerson. Sarah's writing makes for a painfully real read which is enlightening yet horrifying at the same time and I was honestly close to tears when I finished. 


So if Dreamland is the Dessen book that you've avoided because you've heard it was depressing, I urge you to pick it up anyway. True it's not a happy book but there is hope for Caitlin at the end and hope is what's needed to help girls like her to move on with their lives after such a traumatic experience. Even you don't know someone who's been in an abusive relationship, read Dreamland so that if you ever *do* meet someone you will be able to understand what hell they've been through and help them recover as they'll need all the support and understanding available to them.


*massive hugs* - for anyone who needs them.


My Rating: 4.5 Stars out of 5 


This has been one of the hardest reviews to write and has probably taken nearly 2 weeks but I hope the result is not disappointing to anyone.


Sorry for making you wait
LadyV

6 comments:

Savannah 25 July 2010 at 21:48  

I like this book too. For me it was an experience reading this. Seeing al lthat she went through and of course what he went through as well. As the saying goes, Hurt people...hurt people. I feel bad for the boyfriend as well. He was just as much as victim as she was.

Jan von Harz 25 July 2010 at 22:07  

From your review it sounds like Dessen did her research on abuse. Guys brought up in an abusive environment are more likely to be abusive and girls who are in love with an abusive person stay for a number of reasons. Great review.

bookishbarney 25 July 2010 at 23:15  

Excellent review Rachel - and you can tell how much thought you've put into it. Looking forward to seeing what's next, you've got loads of new books that I'm dying to find out more about! :-)

Marg 26 July 2010 at 00:50  

I got a bit out of habit at writing reviews, and it is really hard to get back to them again. You did well with this one!

Emidy 26 July 2010 at 05:10  

Lovely review! I still haven't read anything by Sarah Dessen. Maybe I'll give Dreamland a shot.

Jessheartsbooks 26 July 2010 at 10:07  

Brilliant review my lovely. Can I just say to anyone reading this that I was one of those girls in an abusive relationship and yes he was abused by his mother too so yes Sarah definitely got that spot on as it is very common. Rachel’s my best friend and although the relationship I was in ended two years ago and I didn’t know her back then I’m still working through some issues now that Rachel’s very understanding with. Love ya hun *big hugs* this is one of your best reviews yet me thinks!

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