Book Review: The Fourth Wall

The Fourth Wall
Published By: WiDo Publishing
Publication Date: June 10, 2014
Page Count: 256
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Author
Audience: Young Adult - Fantasy

15 year old Marin is capable of lucid dreaming. This is the ability to control the content of your dreams, as well as an awareness that you are in fact dreaming. After her mother dies and her brother is afflicted by what appears to be severe regressive autism, Marin takes comfort in the dream world that she is able to create for herself and finds more joy in sleep than she could ever imagine while awake. 

 The lush richness of Marin’s dream world contrasts strongly with the stark bleakness of her waking world, and the reader is drawn to both. Marin’s father has had to give up his well-paid job and is now working the night shift, leaving Marin to watch her brother at night while he works. He catches what small sleep he can when Marin comes home from school. Despite her best efforts to blend in and not attract attention or sympathy, Marin is drawn out by the counsellor, Carolyn, and is forced to join the school’s group therapy program. Here she meets Frankie, who won’t let her hide and wants to be more than friends. But while things are looking up in the real world, something is going wrong in Marin’s dreams. The dream itself seems to be turning against her, and she can’t work out how to control it. 

The Fourth Wall is author Elizabeth Maria Naranjo’s debut novel, although you wouldn’t know it from reading. The characters are well developed, even those with very minor roles, and the suffering of Marin’s family as a result of her mother’s death is palpable. I really enjoyed the subplots involving the members of the therapy group. They provided a very real contrast to the fantasy elements of the book. 

The fantasy elements of the story do require some suspension of disbelief, but if you’re willing to do that, The Fourth Wall is a compelling read.

When Marin was little and monsters chased her through nightmares, she learned to weave her own dreams. Her mother called the lucid dreaming a gift, and when an accident takes her mother and leaves her baby brother an empty shell, Marin uses this gift to spin a new reality for herself. One without time or sorrow. A world without memory.

But just when Marin thinks she’s safe in her make-believe fantasy world, the monsters come back and her dream turns to a nightmare. Something in the dream doesn’t want Marin to wake up. 

In order to heal herself and her family, Marin must face the truth she's forgotten and conquer what lies behind the fourth wall.