Thursday, April 09, 2009

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

Wake by Lisa McMann
4Q 5P; Audience: J/S (gr. 9+)

Even though I love to sleep, I hate to go to sleep. That's only because I'm a real nightowl, though. Fortunately, I don't have Janie's problem. It's not actually the sleeping that's a problem for Janie. It's the dreaming. When she was eight years old, Janie discovered that she could actually enter people's dreams, see what they're seeing and feel what they're feeling. Ever since, she's been afraid to fall asleep, especially if anyone else is sleeping nearby. What if she accidentally falls into someone's dream? She's seen some pretty unnerving things. Mr. Reed at the old age home? His dreams are about war, being shot, and his body parts falling off. Her best friend, Carrie? She dreams about a drowning boy. And in their dreams, all of these people look at Janie and plead, "Help me. Help me, Janie." How? How can she help them? What is she supposed to do in a dream?

None of these dreams compare to the ones she's been having recently. Sometimes there's a middle-aged man and a younger guy, a huge monster-man who has knives for fingers. And he uses those knives on the older man in horrible ways. Sometimes the dream is even worse. Sometimes the monster-man is coming after her.

Janie doesn't know why she has these dreams or what she's supposed to do with them. She just wishes they would stop. She has nobody to talk to about them. Her mother is an alcoholic who rarely has a sober moment, and Carrie's too busy with her boyfriend. She has nobody else. Except, perhaps, for...Caleb Strumheller? Caleb's been trouble and stoned since ninth grade. But there's something different about him this year. He looks more put together. He even talks to people on occasion. And there's the way he looks at her, the way he seems to see right into her. In some weird way, he seems to be involved in her dreams already. Maybe that means something. What would happen if, for a change, she took a cue from the people in her dreams and asked him for help?

Together, Caleb and Janie begin to puzzle out the secret of her dreams. But there are things Caleb isn't telling her, and Janie's nightmares are far from over.


I didn't know what to expect from this book. I was a little confused when I first began reading it. It took me a while to get used to the jumps in time and to catch on to what was going on. But once I got into it, I was hooked. It's a compulsively readable book. I'm not going to pretend that I couldn't predict what was going to happen in a few instances. This isn't a goes-where-no-author-has-gone-before book. But it didn't matter. The situation was fascinating enough that I just wanted to keep reading. Janie has complexity and her voice is spot-on, and I found her a totally believable character. I thought the evolution of her relationship with Caleb was handled well. On the other hand, I thought she was a little obtuse on the subject of Caleb's and Carrie's secrets. But perhaps that's because I have a few years on her.

I was surprised when I looked at the front of the book and found excerpts of rave reviews from several review journals. It has 192 customer reviews on (I've never seen more that a dozen there) and 72 on Amazon. How did I miss this book when it first came out? However it happened, I've already made sure that my patrons and I won't be missing Fade, the sequel. It's already on order. (There will be a third book in 2010.) Bring on the lucid dreaming !

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