A. Fortis first described Dessen’s compact and powerful prose, and I took another gamble on this writer with a serious book about a love story gone horribly wrong. Dessen’s novel, Dreamland, contains one of the best emotional descriptions of an battered woman I’ve ever read. Dessen describes Caitlin’s helpless, sort of dreamy sensation of floating internally as a dreamland from which she only awakens when her boyfriend calls her. It is his voice which makes her snap to — or else.
Protagonist Caitlin is losing herself. Since her sister ran away from home, she’s been dancing double-time to fill in — to be the daughter that her parents miss, but also to be the self she’s longed to be without the shadow of a brilliant and perfect elder sister. Caitlin’s connection to the world around her grows hazier and hazier and she finds first her teachers, then her best friends and finally her parents voices growing fainter and fainter. It’s like she’s drowning — and the hand she’s straining for belongs to someone who just might pull her up — or may be the one who has pushed her down to begin with.
An ugly topic and an important read. It’s not how it happens for everyone, but it’s one explanation of how a girl could get into a battering relationship, something that seems inexplicable at times to outsiders.