Book 52: Dreamland

Book Title: Dreamland
Author: Sarah Dessen
Published: 2000
Pages: 250
Category: fiction: young adult

Dreamland is such a different novel than the other novels I’ve read by Sarah Dessen. I’ve read her novels before for an escape, stories of love, and self discovery. Dreamland was along the same lines – about life and love and tough decisions – but in a very different way.

When her sister disappears just months before leaving for Yale, running away with her boyfriend to escape her life, Caitlin falls apart. But no one seems to notice, not her parents, not her friends, not her neighbours. She starts to hate her friends, to hate her school activities, to hate the fakeness of her cheerleading and the only shining light in her day to day life is her new boyfriend.

But her love is not all that it seems, we slowly see her fall into a relationship that becomes abusive, and watch as she loses more and more control of her life, not knowing what to do or who to turn to.

This is a topic that I’ve never seen tackled before in Young Adult fiction, and I found Sarah Dessen’s approach to it both heartbreaking and realistic. All of the choices that Cailtlin takes have a kind of logic to them, you can see how she becomes trapped, and without her sister, the only person she could confide in before, you see how she feels like she has no place to turn.

When the truth is discovered, we see how Caitlin’s troubles are not over, but that she is on a path to a slow recovery. This too is realistic.

One of the things I love most about Sarah Dessen’s books are how real her characters seem. No two alike, but everyone a believable and likable character. They deal with family, school, friendships, and the challenges of life and the constant changes it entails.

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