Book Review: Dreamland

Published By: Speak
Publication Date: September 2000
Page Count: 250
Source: Library
Audience: Young Adult - Contemporary

I love Sarah Dessen, but I have to admit that this one was a difficult read for me. The writing is solid and the characters are well developed, but the subject matter bothered me. The novel touches on physical abuse in a teen relationship as well as other serious topics. Reading about the abuse was difficult and heartbreaking for me.

I have never been able to understand how people can stay in a relationship in which the person who is supposed to love them is causing them pain. From the first moment that Caitlin meets Rogerson, I was on edge. I knew what the novel was about and I knew things would not end well. I also just never understood Caitlin's attraction to Rogerson; he is a slime ball on so many levels. He made my skin crawl.

The dominant emotion I felt while reading this one was anger. I was angry that Caitlin didn't stand up for herself and walk away from Rogerson when the abuse started. I was angry that none of Caitlin's friends or family members noticed her shift in behavior and questioned it. I was angry that Rogerson felt that love was something controlling and painful; he allowed his jealously to blind him to all common sense. I was angry that Caitlin's sister was so selfish.

Ultimately, I was angry that this novel was realistic. Sadly, teen girls do face physical and emotional abuse from their boyfriends. While this novel was difficult for me to read, I can only hope that teens can learn from Caitlin's story. Young women need to see their value and not let it be diminished by something negative and hurtful. Dreamland is an important novel, but is not for the weak of heart. It will leave tiny bruises on your soul.

One Last Gripe: It was difficult for me to understand Caitlin's choices.

Favorite Thing About This Book: The commentary on familial relationships

First Sentence: When I was four and Cass was six, she whacked me across the face with a plastic shovel at our neighborhood park.

Favorite Character: Boo

Least Favorite Character: Rogerson

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 Being with him makes Caitlin forget about everything else--her missing sister, her withdrawn mother, her lackluster life.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?