Sunday, September 5, 2010

Review: Dreamland by Sarah Dessen

Rating - 4
Young Adult Novel

It is Caitlyn O'Koren's 16th birthday when her older sister, Cass, runs away. It is the beginning of her junior year of high school and all people can talk about is Cass. Cass was the "perfect" daughter...involved in everything, accepted at Yale, popular. Caitlyn has always been in her shadow, but she and Cass have always been close. With her parents focused on finding Cass, Caitlyn becomes "invisible". This is her chance to become the person she wants to be, away from the shadow of Cass. She joins the cheerleading squad with her best friend, Rena, something Cass never did. She doesn't really like it, but it's different. Then she meets Rogerson. He is so different from the jocks she and her friends hang out with. He is mesmerizing and maybe a little dangerous. He has a reputation for doing drugs and has been arrested before. Soon Caitlyn and Rogerson are spending all of their time together. Rogerson has easy access to the drugs he sells, and turns Caitlyn on to smoking pot. Then one day, when she turns up late for a date with him, he punches her in the face. It is shocking and painful and Caitlyn isn't sure what to do. She loves him. Afterwards, he is tender and loving toward her and promises it will never happen again. But it does, over and over again. Caitlyn hides it well, but she becomes a different person, hiding her bruises from everyone who cares about her. quitting the cheerleading squad, hanging out with Rogerson's friends, smoking pot. She needs to tell someone; she wants to talk to Cass desperately, but Cass is gone and Caitlyn is sliding away.

This book by Dessen is about 6 years old, but as always, right on the mark. The phenomenon of date abuse (not rape) is not openly discussed, but in fact 1 in 11 high school students report being abused on a date. Teens who read this should have their eyes open to the signs of someone being abused and what to do if you are the one abused. The teen characters are well-drawn and believable, and the story is still very timely.

1 comment:

  1. This is one of the few Dessen's I haven't read. I own it but I haven't gotten around to it yet!