On My Bookshelf: Dreamland by Sarah Dessen

February 17, 2020

In Dreamland by Sarah Dessen, Caitlin's parents are wrapped up in the disappearance of her sister. Caitlin's desire to be needed is satisfied when she meets Rogerson, who she thinks she can save from the effects of his abusive father. But Caitlin can't change him, and soon she becomes a victim of Rogerson's abuse. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.
The basic plot from Amazon: Love can be a very dangerous thing.

After her sister left, Caitlin felt lost.

Then she met Rogerson.

When she’s with him, nothing seems real.

But what happens when being with Rogerson becomes a larger problem than being without him?

Why I liked it: As a teenager, I was a huge fam of Sarah Dessen and was happy to find that her books stand the test of time when I recently read one of her newer releases, Once and For AllDreamland isn't new (it was published in 2004), but it was one I hadn't read as a teen. I'm sure I would have liked it them, but as an adult I couldn't tear myself away from it.
In Dreamland by Sarah Dessen, Caitlin's parents are wrapped up in the disappearance of her sister. Caitlin's desire to be needed is satisfied when she meets Rogerson, who she thinks she can save from the effects of his abusive father. But Caitlin can't change him, and soon she becomes a victim of Rogerson's abuse. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.

After Caitlin's perfect sister Cass runs away just before she is set to begin college, Caitlin, an otherwise "good" girl and student, feels the need to push back and be something different. With her parents wrapped up in the disappearance of her sister, Caitlin's desire to be needed is satisfied when she meets Rogerson, who she thinks she can change and save from the effects of his abusive father. But Caitlin can't change him or save him, and soon she becomes a victim of Rogerson's abuse.

As a mother of three girls, an abusive partner is one of my worst fears for them. It was frightening to think about how easy it was for Caitlin to get stuck in this terrible relationship. And she isn't the only one in the book. Corrine, a supporting character, isn't in a physically abusive relationship, but she allows her husband to tie her down and drain her financially. Sadly, I could see myself doing the same as either girl at their age. Despite having wonderful parents and grandparents as models of healthy relationships, an unhealthy relationship had an inexplicable appeal for me as a young adult and I would imagine many other girls felt or feel the same.

Classroom application: Because of the disturbing content and drug use, I would recommend this one for high school and up. Discussions about healthy teen relationships is SO important and I highly recommend having at least one with your students. You can read a little more about the author's intentions and the evolution of this story here.

Dreamland could also be used to study the idea of character foils. Caitlin and her best friend Rina, and Caitlin's parents and their neighbors, Boo and Stewart, are perfect pairings.

If you are interested in purchasing a copy of Dreamland for yourself, you can find it on Amazon here.

Note: The Literary Maven is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

In Dreamland by Sarah Dessen, Caitlin's parents are wrapped up in the disappearance of her sister. Caitlin's desire to be needed is satisfied when she meets Rogerson, who she thinks she can save from the effects of his abusive father. But Caitlin can't change him, and soon she becomes a victim of Rogerson's abuse. Read on for more of my review and ideas for classroom application.

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