Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Dreamland by Sarah Dessen

by Sarah Dessen
This is my third finished book for 2010 and like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo it was not an easy read.  I love Dessen's writing but the topic of this one made it very difficult.

Ever since she started going out with Rogerson Biscoe, Caitlin seems to have fallen into a semiconscious dreamland where nothing is quite real.  Rogerson is different from anyone Caitlin has ever known.  He's magnetic.  He's compelling.  He's dangerous.  Being with him makes Caitlin forget about everything else-her missing sister, her withdrawn mother, her lackluster life.  But what happens when being with Rogerson becomes a larger problem than being without him?

You see, I read all that on the back when I purchased the book six months ago-I knew from that description the boyfriend, Rogerson was bad news but reading it was so powerful, so real, so right on-I was shocked and shaky at points while reading it.  I made little gurgly, grunty noises of fear for Caitlin.  It was powerful reading particularly because I had one boyfriend who had some snarky resemblence to Rogerson.

My "Rogerson" was Joey and he was gorgeous; curly, wild hair (hmm, like Rogerson), funny, sweeter-than-sweet smile, and a happy, no worries-kind-of attitude.  All good until his vivid green stripes started showing and I don't mean his environmental tendencies, either.  Then he became wicked controlling within one weekend and his severe temper reared up and out and toward me. It was completely unexpected for me-he drove a VW Bus and worked by day as a talented carpenter for heaven's sake!!   For me, this situation only lasted one weekend and then I said "see ya" to sweet Joey.  It doesn't ever really end that easy and it doesn't for Caitlin but having lived through an abusive situation I was amazed at how perfect Dessen's writing was on this topic and crushed because this wasn't going to be a love story where I could secretly love the young male character!  Statistically, I know high school young women are so vulnerable (I was a little older-out of college) and I knew, as soon as I heard Rogerson controlling her, which road we were heading down.

Intermixed with the abusive relationship are flashbacks and thoughts about Caitlin's sister, Cassandra, who  disappears with her boyfriend, Adam instead of heading off to Harvard.  This is the event which throws Caitlin into a tailspin.  I enjoyed her family story and thought it related to so many together families...nothing really wrong-more right than wrong but somehow kids don't go down the projected path. The hippie/neighbor/best friends were wonderful characters as well.  
I wish all teenage girls would read a book like this and learn the signs of someone who does not have their best interests at heart.  It hurt to read the book but I've never written anything out about Joey, so maybe the light shines through!  Sarah Dessen writes this with such vivid descriptions it makes me wonder if she too has a Joey in her past??
As part of Bibliophile By The Sea's Reading from my shelves project I am passing this on to my stepdaughter Kaylee.
Highly Recommended YA/ 4/5 peaceful stars

Happy Reading!!


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Patricia J. Weaver said...

What a great review... I don't really like Sarah Dessen's books tooo old plot type but I might look this one up.

Anonymous said...

Great review! I really loved this book. It was very difficult to read in part just because you want more than anything to tell Caitlin to stop dating Rogerson etc. A very powerful read.

Paige Y. said...

I really like Dessen's books, and this was no exception. I think it ought to be a must-read for high school girls who often refuse to see beyond "but he says he loves me."

Jenners said...

Thanks for sharing your story ... it helped the book to "come alive" even more for me. And I had a "Rogerson" in my past too (I suspect most women do) and it took a long long time to realize how bad he was for me and how little I valued myself when I was with him. Well done.

Amy Nichols said...

That does sound like a difficult read, but an important one for girls. Glad you walked away from Joey. Thank you for being open enough to share your story as well. The more we talk about these things, the better for all of us.

Bibliovore said...

I'm about to start another Sarah Dessen book (The Truth About Forever). I love her stuff, but Dreamland looked different than her usual. Reading your review, I'm now definitely going to read it anyway!