Book 10: Dreamland by Sarah Dessen
The “opinion” section of this review contains some spoilers for this book. If you haven’t guessed what Cailin’s problem is already and don’t want to know what it is, ignore that part.
Author: Sarah Dessen
Page Count: 250
Genre Young adult
Summary: Sixteen-year-old Caitlin O’Koren has always felt overshadowed by her older sister, Cass. Now Cass has run away, and Caitlin is left to deal with what’s left of herself and her family. She finds comfort in the arms of Rogerson Briscoe, who makes her feel something she has never felt before – special. But being special isn’t always a good thing, and soon Caitlin finds herself in over her head, drowning. unwilling to call out for help.
Opinion: I keep hearing great things about Sarah Dessen’s work, but this is my second attempt at reading a book of hers (the first was Keeping the Moon), and I didn’t think it was amazing. Maybe I’m just not finding the right books.
Overall, I enjoyed the book. It wasn’t the most amazing thing ever, but the characters were realistic and relatable (for the most part – more on that later), and I definitely got caught up in the story. I think that a lot of times it’s easy for those not in abusive relationships to look down on those who are, wondering how they could possibly put themselves in that position, and Dessen does a great job of showing how it starts slowly. He seems perfectly normal for several months, and then things get progressively worse from the first moment he hits her.
My only real complaint about this book (which sort of goes against what I said in the previous paragraph, but I’ll try to reconcile the two thoughts) is that I couldn’t understand why she stayed with him so long. When the abuse first started, yes, I can understand. I’ve always been willing to give people a second chance, so I can understand staying after he hits her once. I can even understand why she stays for several more months.
What really gets to me, though, is that she stays with him long after he starts beating her constantly. I can understand why people put up with a lot of crap – as long as the amount of time you spend happy is greater than the amount of time you spend unhappy, I figure there’s still hope for the relationship – but towards the end she’s never happy. She’s constantly fearing for her life, and she misses school because she doesn’t want to be late to meet with him, and I just wanted to grab her and shake her until she came to her senses and told someone – or at least allowed someone to see evidence that would make them worried.
I guess my problem isn’t with the writing so much as with the characters. I don’t understand them. Part of me feels that it’s the writer’s job to make those characters understandable, and the other part of me feels that I’ll never be able to understand them. Overall, I enjoyed the book. It’s not my favorite book, and I wouldn’t ever read it again, but I’m glad I read it once.