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Release Date: June 2012
Genre: Young Adult Fiction. Social Issues. Dating Violence
Dreamland is my first exploration into a Sarah Dessen novel. Surprisingly, this book was much darker and emotional than I had previously anticipated. I knew there would be some talk about teen dating violence and that the heroine of the story was dealing with some heavy issues, but I didn’t realize the extent of it all. This book, with the subject of physical abuse between two teenagers, is a hard one too read. Not because the author can’t write a good story (she clearly can) but because this subject is a hard one to read about and consider. It is an important one though and I think many teenagers would be good candidates for this novel- even adults and parents of teenagers.
One thing that struck me the most about this novel is the feeling of not being able to decide WHO you ARE. All of us have been teenagers at some point in our life and I bet many of us questioned who we were, what we were going to do with our lives, and all that kind of stuff. All of this is a struggle, especially considering the age we are at when we are trying to decide our future. This in itself, is a major theme in the novel, one that great affects many teenagers today. I think the author did a wonderful job at portraying a teenage girl as such because it holds so much truth.
With that, this is the story of a girl who doesn’t know what she wants or who she wants to be. In her confusion about life and family she meets a boy named Rogerson. They quickly get caught up in one another, fall in love, and everything else fades away. But when Rogerson- the boy from the wrong side of the tracks- begins to physically hurt Caitlin, things begin to spiral out of control. What was once a life filled with confusion on how to grow up into the person she wanted to be turns into a painful game of just trying to keep the anger of Rogerson so he won’t hurt her.
Readers beware, this is not a lovey dovey book with sunshine and roses that will make teenage love seem magical. This is a story about a confused girl and the abusive relationship she finds herself in. Readers will most likely cringe at the physical descriptions of this abuse, but the topic is so important that it won’t matter all the much. This is a story that will affect you and make you think twice..