May 14, 2011

Book Review: Dreamland by Sarah Dessen

At First Sight: Caitlin has always lived in the shadow of her perfect older sister Cass, but the morning of Caitlin's sixteenth birthday Cass changes the rules of the game by walking out on all the expectations of her family and friends, and running away with her new boyfriend.
Original Cover

Caitlin is used to being the shadow, following her sister, and once Cass is gone, Caitlin finds herself drowning in the void that Cass left behind. Caitlin tries to get her mom's attention by entering the cheerleading squad, but her mom is too wrapped up in Cass being gone.

At a party a few weeks later, Caitlin meets Rogerson - a handsome older guy who attends the local private school, and she is instantly attracted to him, both because he's handsome and because he doesn't think of her as Cass's little sister.

Soon they begin dating, and Caitlin is wrapped up in Rogerson, his world and his friends as he slowly turns possessive and then controlling, and Caitlin starts to isolate herself from her own family and friends.
Dreamland new
Current Cover

One night, Rogerson hits her, and even though he doesn't really acknowledges that it happens, it turns out to be just the first time of many. But Caitlin is, by then, in too deep to back away.

Second Glance: There is a key point to this book and it is the fact that Caitlin is in an abusive relationship, but I want to start by saying that, to me,  Dreamland has never been an Issue Book. Yes, it happens and it is an important part of the story, but for me it has always been about Caitlin trying to find her own way once Cass isn't there to lead the way - she takes a bad turn and ends up in a bad situation, but the bad situation doesn't make the book for me.

Now, this is one of those books that had me in tears over and over again as I read it. There were moments when it hit me so hard to realize just how lost Caitlin was.

There were parts of the story that I didn't entirely buy, but over all I think that the systematic destruction of Caitlin, the way her loved ones keep missing the signals - because they just can't imagine something like that happening to one of their own - is amazing and real and it hurts.

Bottom Line: Dreamland is powerful book that touches an important subject. It's also a story about sisters, and finding your own way. I can't read this book too often, it makes me cry too much, but sometimes I can't resist the pull I feel for it, and it does sit in the shelf of honor.

Favorite Scene: Rina cocked her head to the side, studying me. She wasn't a dumb girl; she knew something was up. But she still had faith in our friendship, forged in the war zone of junior high. She thought I would never lie to her.

"Okay," She said, finally, as if we'd battered some kind of agreement, "But if you need me-"

"I know," I said, cutting her off.  It was right at noon: My safe time as up. The muscles in my stomach and shoulders were clenching harder as I picked up my backpack and began to move closer to the turnaround. I looked at her, sitting crossleggged there in her sunglasses, popping her gum, with no greater concern in her life right then than me. And I envied her, quickly and quietly, in a different way than I had all those years we'd spent together.
starstarstarstar1/2Personal Favorite

Sarah Dessen Week is an event hosted by Heidi@YA Bibliophile and  Jacinda and Jasmine@The Reading Housewives of Indiana 

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