Dreamland | Books + reading post
The first time I picked up a Sarah Dessen book was when I was in my early teens, standing in the upstairs room at Four Seasons Books in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. The wooden floors creaked beneath my feet as I walked, glancing at the shelves and searching for the perfect springtime read.
They say not to judge books by their covers, but I just couldn't help it when I picked up The Truth About Forever. The soft cover had a feminine look about it - delicate with a lovely flower in a girl's hand. I knew it was meant for me. It was the first Dessen book I read, and I have been collecting all of them over the years.
Sarah's stories are filled with characters who I can relate to on some level. Each book has a soul-searching message that evokes bravery, love, and confidence.
I picked up Dreamland about a month ago. I had tried reading this one many years ago, but had set it aside a few pages in. It is by far the most dark and emotionally exhausting of all of Sarah's books that I've read; it had little of the magical-love-story feel that most of her other books focus on. I did have a hunch on what was going to happen throughout the climax based on some spoilers I had read, so I felt somewhat prepared for this read. However, I still found myself incredibly unprepared and set the book aside many times as I was reading it and at times I felt I could not ever finish it.
Synopsis: Caitlin's older sister, Cass, runs away from home without warning, leaving her parents and Caitlin to deal with their questions. Caitlin is left to try to fit into the perfect mold her sister left behind, and Caitlin decides that she does not want to follow in her sister's footsteps. Her path leads her in an opposite direction, and straight into the arms of Rogerson.
As Caitlin realizes the fact that her relationship with Rogerson is not good or healthy, she feels invisible to everyone around her, including her parents as they focus on her runaway sister. She is driven to silence and to follow Rogerson's rules. Caitlin struggles to create her own path and she fights with insecurity and ultimately has to choose to find her own way.
What I was moved by most about this book is the fact that it directly and unapologetically deals with a lot of things that happen that people really avoid talking about or even ignore in our culture. Some of these issues I had not put a lot of thought into or pondered and Dreamland brought a lot of real things to light and it left me deep in thought, which I think is something the author wanted the reader to experience.
The contemplative aspect of this book is very well done, however I do feel some of the topics (specifically abuse) were very dark and leaves me unsure about considering this a book for young teens. I do think Dreamland holds extremely important and life altering topics that need to be discussed and faced by the world.