Monday, April 11, 2011

Jen Reviews "Dreamland" by Sarah Dessen

Title: Dreamland
Author: Sarah Dessen
Published: Penguin, 2004
Source: Purchased myself 
Rating: 3.5 stars

Summary: (from back cover)

Ever since she started going out with Rogerson Biscoe, Caitlin seems to have fallen into a semiconscious dreamland where nothing is quite real. Rogerson is different from anyone Caitlin has ever known. He's magnetic. He's compelling. He's dangerous. Being with him makes Caitlin forget about everything else-her missing sister, her withdrawn mother, her lackluster life. But what happens when being with Rogerson becomes a larger problem than being without him?


Add Dreamland by Sarah Dessen to the list of books teenage girls need to read (along with Speak). 

On Caitlin's 16th birthday she wakes up to discover that her older sister has run away.  This completely disrupts life in her house.  Her mother starts redecorating the house in a Victorian theme and buys creepy porcelain dolls from infomercials.  Her dad buries himself in his work.  Caitlin needs her own distraction so she tries out for the cheerleading squad with her best friend, Rina.  They both make the squad but Caitlin's heart just isn't in it.

One day while hanging out with Rina, Caitlin meets Rogerson and is immediately mesmerized by him.  Later that night, Rogerson shows up at the same party and doesn't even speak to Caitlin.  Yet she leaves with him anyway.  Honestly, I found that part a little hard to believe.  You meet the guy for two minutes at a gas station and a couple hours later you just leave a party with him?  But hey, it could happen.

If her sister hadn't run away I truly believe that Caitlin would have never gotten involved with Rogerson.  Even if she still happened to meet him, their 'relationship' would have never progressed as far as it did.  It's one of those things that make you think how your actions can affect another person.  Caitlin never really coped with the fact that her sister just left in the middle of the night and that made her an easy target for Rogerson.

Rogerson.  Ugh, I don't like him at all, he's one shady character.  He'll pick Caitlin up for a date but first cart her around to a few drug deals.  What a nice boyfriend (that last sentence is sarcasm).  At first he seems like such a great guy.  What Caitlin thought was Rogerson being sweet and caring was really him starting his abusive ways.  Eventually, Caitlin wasn't allowed to talk to any other guys (even if it was a boy in her class) and he almost succeeds at completely isolating her from her family and friends.  The tiniest things would set him off.  

My absolute favorite part about this book was the ending.  I'm afraid I can't say anything without spoiling it but if you have read the book (or don't care about spoilers) highlight the passage below:

I loved that we were able to read about Caitlin in rehab and her road to recovery.  Most books would have ended when Rogerson was arrested and we just would have assumed Caitlin went back to her old self.  I'm so glad that Dessen gave us a whole picture that included the aftermath of being abused.

Overall, I really enjoyed Dreamland.  I think it is an important book that all teenage girls (and boys) should read.  The statistics for dating violence are pretty scary and I don't think enough people are aware about how serious of a problem it is.

Teen Dating Violence Statistics:

  • 1 in 5 teens who have been in a serious relationship report being hit, slapped or pushed by a partner.
  • 1 in 3 girls who have been in a serious relationship say they’ve been concerned about being physically hurt by their partner.
  • 1 in 4 teens who have been in a serious relationship say that a boyfriend or girlfriend has tried to prevent them from spending time with friends or family; the same number have been pressured to only spend time with their partner.
  • 1 in 3 girls between the ages of 16 and 18 say sex is expected for people their age in a relationship; half of teen girls who have experienced sexual pressure report they are afraid the relationship would end if they did not give in.
  • Nearly 1 in 4 girls who have been in a relationship (23%) reported going further sexually than they wanted to as a result of pressure.
    Source: Love Is Respect


    1. Whoa-those are some scary stats.

      This is probably my third favorite Dessen (after This Lullaby and The Truth About Forever) and that's because of they way she captures this abusive relationship and just breaks my heart for Caitlin.

    2. Wow. This book sounds like one to break the heart. Great review. I'm going to make a point to read this one soon.

    3. these books are so hard to read - which is what makes them so important. thanks for reviewing and giving this title a little more internet buzz!

    4. I'm with Lisa. Sometimes this subject matter is hard to stomach, but it really has to be discussed and raised to a higher level of awareness.

      Thanks so much for the review. This is an author I've been meaning to look into!

    5. Sarah Dessen has been my favorite author since I was fifteen (it's hard to believe she's been writing that long!), and though I found this book hard to read, I think it is one of her best. Also, I totally agree with what you said about the ending.

    6. I haven't read anything by Sarah Dessen. This one seems like one I would enjoy though.

    7. I have to look into Sara Dessen books! I haven't read any and after reading this review and others I should really get started.

      Wow those statistics are really shocking to me. Thank you for the awareness.

    8. This is a great review! It's the only book by Sarah Dessen I've never read... but that won't be for long! Also, those statistics are crazy! /: Great job at spreading the word about that(:

    9. Bookworn1858: I haven't read all of Dessen's books yet but (so far anyway) The Truth About Forever is my favorite.

      Ashley, lisa, and mmshaunakelley: The subject matter was difficult but it's one of those books that I'm glad I read.

      Katie: The ending was just perfect for this book!

      sarahem and Vy: You both need to go read one of Sarah Dessen's books soon! I haven't read all of her books yet but I've really enjoyed the ones I have read.

      Katie: The teen violence statistics are so depressing. I didn't realize that they were so high!

    10. My husband just recently directed a play about teens in violent relationships and the actors end the play by listing off facts affecting teen dating. It makes a huge impact on the audience.

      Dessen's Dreamland does a great job of highlighting how easy these relationships are to fall into.

    11. It is a story that talks about the love and pain inside a teenage abusive relationship. It is gripping, scary, powerful, and yet, still beautiful. There is love. There is desire. There is pain. There is confusion. But most of all, there is an understanding you gain from reading this story. You learn to understand why maybe some girls are stuck, or choose to stay in abusive relationships. You may learn to understand the power and life behind a druggie. You may learn to appreciate life in ways you would've never seen before.


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