Sunday, June 20, 2010
Dreamland by Sarah Dessen
Popular author Sarah Dessen has managed to write yet another book on "teenage issues" without sounding like the school's preachy guidance counselor. This time, our protagonist is sixteen year-old Caitlin, who bares many characteristics of all of Dessen's leading ladies. On the morning of her sixteenth birthday party, she and her parents wake up to find her older sister, Cass, has run away to be with her new found love. All that's left is the present that Cass left for her sister and the note that was under the coffee maker. Caitin's structured family is in a tailspin. Her father is more withdrawn than ever and her mother becomes obsessed with finding her daughter. Caitlin shrinks into the background, living life as normally as she can. Her attempt at normality leads to cheerleading tryouts, coaxed by her best friend, Rina. Caitlin manages to make the squad even if she is lacking the zest that the other members seen to have a never ending supply of. It's not long until she meets Rogerson, a student from the fancy prep school, Perkins Day. Rogerson takes a liking to Caitlin and it's not long before they're a "couple". We watch as Caitlin changes from the good, B-average student to the chain smoking victim of an abusive boyfriend. Rogerson wants her to be with him at all times and if she takes a step out of line, she pays the price of a beating. The reader wants to scream, "Do something! Tell someone!" at poor Caitlin, but she can't. Anyone she could tell has their own problems to deal with. Caitlin has entered a sort of dreamland. Nothing - the cheerleading, her sister's disappearance, her abusive boyfriend- none of it seems real. She lives for the "safe periods" after Rogerson hits her when he's especially nice to her. It's heartbreaking to watch, but so incredibly real. It's the secret story of many real relationships. Dessen's writing is compelling, often humorous, sometimes depressing, but always powerful. Dreamland is an excellent read for anyone seeking the story of a girl that could be any one of us. 5 STARS!