Released: May 11, 2004
Quick Thoughts: This is the first novel by Sarah Dessen that I read. I remember really wanting to read this one, because I love blue hues. If you haven't noticed yet, I'm incredibly shallow when it comes to book cover. When I heard what the book was about, I was interested. I read one book about abuse and while for the most part I liked it, the book didn't only talk about the victim.
"It was like he wanted to be mad, so he'd have an excuse to do what he did to me."
~ taken from page 168 of Dreamland
On the morning of her 16th birthday, Caitlin's sister, Cass, runs away, leaving behind a present and a note for her parents. She ran away with her boyfriend Adam, and now works in a Jerry Springer like show.
Her mother takes the disappearance the hardest, sulking and watching the show religiously, the moment it comes on the TV. During this time, Caitlin takes up cheerleading (it's something Cass wouldn't do) and meets Rogerson, a drug dealer, and super genius. The two hang out and pretty soon Caitlin start falls in love for the resident bad boy.
After a scene involving Rogerson's father when the two really become close and pretty soon Caitlin's whole life starts to revolve around Rogerson. It doesn't take long for Caitlin to start falling behind in school and failing almost every class, but as long as she's with Rogerson it doesn't seem so bad. Rogerson introduces her to sex, drugs, and sadly his fists as well.
Even though I knew it was coming, when the first punch happened it still surprised me. I think I even gasped when it happened. The abuse doesn't start until the middle of the book, which is something that I liked. Abuse doesn't usually start right away in a relationship. There is usually a time period when everything seems perfect and emotions start to develop. It's after this period that the abuse happens. The book follows the same sort of formula, which is why the abuse so shocking.
Final Thoughts: Dreamland is a depressing book, with a message about hope, but it's mostly depressing. But when it comes to abuse, I think it needs to be. It's heartbreaking and I was so emotionally invested in Caitlin that every time she came home with a new bruise and make an excuse for it, I wanted to find her, give her a hug, and tell her to wake up! It's frustrating to watch someone give up and let this happen to them, but watching how Caitlin falls made me understand why she stayed. The reasons why he hurt her was illogical and the reason she stayed with him was stupid, but it's realistic.
I loved this book, because it didn't shy away from abuse and how the victim deals with it. Dreamland is a brutally honest book that is chilling to read. It's also a book that I will never forget. This is a book that you definitely need to pick up!
Grade: 10 out of 10
For the shorter version of this review, visit 5 Line Reviews.