Monday, March 28, 2016

YA Contemporary Review: Dreamers Often Lie by Jacqueline West

Dreamers Often Lie by Jacqueline West
Format:  Hardcover
Publisher: Dial Books
Number of Pages: 304
Published:  April 5th 2016

Source:  Purchased and ARC from author in exchange for an honest review
Genre:   YA Contemporary 

Opening lines:  "There was blood on the snow.  White, with a smattering of red.  Like petals."  

Jaye Stuart slowly begins to regain consciousness after having a terrible skiing accident.  Everything appears so bright and the first sounds around her confusing. She drifts between being in her bedroom, auditioning for a part in a play and a memory of going on a ski trip with her family when she was eight or nine. Not only is Jaye trying to piece together what has happened to her, she is also trying to process the death of her father. One thing is for certain, Jaye must get out of the hospital and back to the school production of A Midsummer Night's Dream.  She has the lead of Titana and Pierce is going to be her Oberon.  Maybe it will be a chance for them to rekindle their friendship.  But when new kid, Romeo (Rob Mason) starts to show up in her classes, Jaye is drawn to this mysterious. kind boy who seems to understand what's going on with her.   So, Jaye puts on her best Elizabeth Taylor.  Calm. Cool.   And tries to convince everyone she is just fine.  Even while everything is still so confusing, and she's seeing people who she knows or thinks couldn't possibly be there.   Can she trust what she is seeing? Even if it's Shakespeare and Hamlet?  

In Dreamers Often Lie,  West does a remarkable job of placing you inside Jaye's head. As a speech therapist,  I have always been fascinated with and strived  to further understand the way in which our brains function, and especially how it has the ability to figure out ways to accommodate for lost functions.  Its resilience is astounding. Jaye's brain is this confusing place of retrograde amnesia, agitation, hallucinations, with gaps in memories, making Jaye an unreliable narrator. Jaye has a very strong desire to hide her hallucinations, which is completely understandable, because she feels that if people really knew what she was seeing they would probably think she is "insane."  She puts on these "personas" to show the face of someone who is collected, in control, while everything is spinning out of control around her.   Jaye's story has a ring of authenticity to it, being true to the types of experiences someone with a head injury might have sustained, and shows just how much research West must have done. This line absolutely grabbed me  "I'd only lost a few hours this time, not days.  Still the thought that my body had been wandering around without my mind was frightening.  Violating.  Like something had been stolen right out of my pocket."    The whole book has a dreamy quality to it, while leaving you never certain of what's real and what's not.  Is she recalling things as they are? Is it the painkillers they gave her after the accident?  Or is this just a part of her concussion?  There is also the fantastical elements of Shakespeare's plays and appearance of Hamlet and other characters from Midsummer Nights Dream.  I loved reading all of the quotes and references from Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Nights Dream, Hamlet and Macbeth, and how they were interwoven into the story.  It never felt like they were placed randomly, each seemed to have a purpose and West really piqued my interest to explore Shakespeare's works further, although I'll never be as passionate as Jaye was.  Then there's Jaye's two love interests, Pierce and Rob (Romeo).   The boy that she's known forever and the one who just seems to get her.  I was rooting for both of them by the end.  Such a wonderful twisty, heart-wrenching beautiful story with an ending that makes you question everything, but one that I will eagerly be reading again and again.    I'm going to borrow a few adjectives from Kirkus and Booklist, it was "engrossing, dizzying, beguiling, lyrical, lilting and spectral."  Highly recommend.  

Dreamers Often Lie Releases on April 5th 2016


New Release Books said...

Sounds a chilling yet thrilling story! Would love to read this!

DMS said...

This sounds like a book that involved a lot of research to write. I have only read one of West's books so far, but I enjoyed it and look forward to reading more of her work. This one sounds intense. I agree with you that it is fascinating to think about how the brain works. :) Thanks for sharing!

Brenda said...

I hope you get the opportunity, I love West's writing. Thanks for stopping by.

Brenda said...

I think we're two peas in a pod Jess 😀

Sherry Early said...

I also enjoy reading about how the brain works, and I'm a Shakespeare fan. So the YA sounds intriguing. I can see how it could be done well---or not. I'll certainly take your word that it is well written and check it out. Have you read Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan? If not, you might like it. It's not a novel, however, but rather a memoir.

Brenda said...

I haven't yet read Brain on Fire, but will have to check it out. Dreamers Often Lie was intriguing for me, because of the mix of Shakespeare with Jaye's injury. I'm just now delving back into YA and it was a great beginning for me. I hope you enjoy it if you get the opportunity to read it.

Karen Lange said...

Brenda, thanks for the info on this book. Thanks also for stopping by my blog for Natalie's interview. It's great to meet you. Have a good week! :)

Brenda said...

NP, Natalie is so nice and it was fun reading your interview. Have a great week too.