Dreamland by Sarah Dessen

Caitlin has always seemed to sit in her older sister Cass’s shadow.  Even now that Cass has left their home, running away to live with her boyfriend…. leaving… on Caitlin’s sixteenth birthday.

Caitlin tries to move forward in her life while her parents watch her every move wondering if she too will take flight.  Caitlin’s mom starts trying to mold Caitlin who had always been the invisible sister into her everything.  When Caitlin makes the cheer leading squad (ugh…. cheer leading) her mom takes charge with schedules and uniforms and showing up at practices – much as she used to do with Cass.  Could it be that Cass left because she felt smothered by this parental over achieving?

And as Caitlin deals with this new life she finds herself caught up in a whirl of new friends, friends that did not know here as Cass’s sister… friends she can hide herself in and Caitlin begins to become smaller and smaller, flying under the radar as she experiments with drugs and alcohol under the overly watchful eye of her new boyfriend Rogerson.

Strange, sleepy Rogerson, with his long brown dreads and brilliant green eyes, had seemed to Caitlin to be an open door. With him she could be anybody, not just the second-rate shadow of her older sister, Cass. But now she is drowning in the vacuum Cass left behind when she turned her back on her family’s expectations by running off with a boyfriend. Caitlin wanders in a dream land of drugs and a nightmare of Rogerson’s sudden fists, lost in her search for herself.

And this begins my adventures in reading with Sarah Dessen.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book in audio format.  Narrated by Liz Morton, she brought the perfect “bored and uninterested” voice to Caitlin and her friends as well as she brought the concern into her parents.  I found this book to be an important read just like SPEAK is. 

Caitlin’s attempt to lose herself after she loses her sister is one that I believe speaks volumes to our society.  As Cass was the one who always took the spotlight, Caitlin had no idea what to do when Cass left and the spotlight was all too glaring on her.  In times of great tragedy or loss in our lives it is tempting to try to reinvent yourself to cover up the pain.  Cass nearly succeeds but by doing so puts herself in grave danger with an abusive boyfriend and drug loving friends.

SO just for a moment without going “spoilerly”… I can’t stand Rogerson.  He is a horrible teen who is obviously carrying on what he has learned in his own home.  Sad…. very sad.  So saying that – I can also say that I am reading this from a parental perspective and Rogerson is a bug that must be squashed…. from a teen girls perspective he is dreamy.  Mysterious.  Brooding.  Handsome.  Dangerous.  All the things that many young girls are attracted to and really this is where the heart of Dreamland lies within the relationship between Rogerson and Caitlin.

This book as I mentioned above is an important read.  Abuse is never something to be accepted.You can feel bad for the one causing the abuse, you can understand why they may be doing it – but it is wrong and they need help. 

The following is taken from the ACADV Dating Violence:

Teen dating violence often is hidden because teenagers typically:

  • are inexperienced with dating relationships.
  • are pressured by peers to act violently.
  • want independence from parents.
  • have “romantic” views of love.

Teen dating violence is influenced by how teenagers look at themselves and others.

Young men may believe:

  • they have the right to “control” their female partners in any way necessary.
  • “masculinity” is physical aggressiveness
  • they “possess” their partner.
  • they should demand intimacy.
  • they may lose respect if they are attentive and supportive toward their girlfriends.

Young women may believe:

  • they are responsible for solving problems in their relationships
  • their boyfriend’s jealousy, possessiveness and even physical abuse, is “romantic.”
  • abuse is “normal” because their friends are also being abused.
  • there is no one to ask for help.

Sarah Dessens characters are memorable and even beyond the abuse in the book the story line is strong, and witty.  There is more to this book than your typical YA although it will appeal to those who are just looking for a good read as well.

Amazon Rating

The 2011 WHERE Are You Reading Map has been updated to include Dreamland

I borrowed this audio from my local library

27 thoughts on “Dreamland by Sarah Dessen

      1. I’ve read two, and one of them was excellent and the other was more so-so. Fine, good, but not up to the standard of the first one I read. I really want to read more, though!

  1. This does sound like an important book and one that would appeal to and be good for teenage girls to read. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I believe its important that teenage girls understand what is and isn’t okay when they are dating. Tahnks for posting the things to look for in Dating Violence

  3. I have not read any of Sarah’s books but would love to read it in future. I’m totally interested from what you’ve got about violence in dating, so bad they are all quite true.

  4. I have never read Sarah Dessen, but have this one and The Truth About Forever on my bookshelf. After your great review, I am anxious to start with Dreamland!!
    Thanks for another awesome review, Sheila.

  5. I love all of Dessen’s books but this one in particular is a very important read. I felt so deeply about this book, it reminded me of some of my own experiences and I just feel that it is a book that teens NEED to read. Great review. 🙂

  6. I just finished “Stay” by Deb Caletti, which also revolves around an abusive relationship … it was a great read, and showed how easily a normal girl can get caught up with an obsessive guy. I think I’ll put this one on my wish list as well.

Hmmmm... what do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s