When her older sister runs away, 16-year-old Caitlin O'Koren tries to fill the gaping void in her life with cheerleading. Yet after falling from a cheerleading pyramid, she struggles with choices that send her life into a downward spiral. Mesmerized by affluent bad boy Rogerson Biscoe, Caitlin abandons her parents and friends for the seductive lure of his dangerous yet exciting world. But the pain of Rogerson's controlling rage soon shatters the pleasure of their clandestine romance. Trapped in a dizzying maelstrom of abuse, Caitlin seeks the solace of a drug-induced dreamland.
Sarah Dessen talked about writing Dreamland here.
I liked the first three-quarters of the book better than the ending. There was too much wrapping everything up in neat packages for me - and in ways that seemed quite unrealistic. I do think that the topic of teen dating violence is an important one, and I applaud Dessen for taking it on.
A few other random thoughts:
- I would have liked to understand the character Rogerson better, why he did what he did, who he really is.
- Early in the book I identified quite a bit with Caitlin's mother - but by mid-way, I couldn't believe she could be so oblivious to Caitlin's problems ... but maybe that's more realistic than I - as the mother of teenagers - would like to believe.
- I liked the use of photography as a plot devise as well as symbolism.