Author: Sarah Dessen
Pages: 250 pages hardcover/paperback, 256 ebook
When I started reading Dreamland, I felt like it was going to be a book I struggled to finish. I just couldn’t get connected to Caitlin and I felt like I was reading from a distance instead of being right there. About halfway through, that changed.
Caitlin has always lived in the shadow of her older sister, Cass. So when Cass leaves one night without warning, Caitlin feels like it is her responsibility to step up and fill in that “perfect child” role. At the same time, she doesn’t want to be Cass. She doesn’t want to have to be perfect. She’s confused and doesn’t know which way to go. Her confusion ends up leading her down the wrong road, sending her life spiraling down a hole she never thought she’d end up in.
In the attempt to step out of her sister’s shadow, she falls into Rogerson’s. The relationship between these two is heartbreaking, horrific, and realistic. Caitlin’s confusion over how she feels about Rogerson is what makes it all worse because I can understand her thinking. Reading about her struggles made my heart ache for her. He met her when she was already down and only brought her lower.
I think the reasons I didn’t find myself completely loving this book are because of that initial disconnect between me and Caitlin, as well as how blind those closest to Caitlin were. Out of everyone that knew and loved her, not one took enough notice of her downward spiral. I understand why it was done that way, but I still wish one of them had shown something more.
Dreamland is a quick read, but a powerful one. It shows that sometimes the weak are actually the strongest and that what we see on the outside my only be an illusion.