Dreamland By Sarah Dessen

The book Dreamland, by author Sarah Dessen, is not exactly what the title seems to be. The first thing I thought of when hearing the title was a girl lost in a dream finding people and magic and waking up into reality. You may or may not have had the same thoughts as I had but let me tell you one thing: that is not it at all. Instead it is a book about a girl, Caitlin, trying to escape her old self and find her new self with her new boyfriend, Rogerson. This perfect relationship soon goes wrong when Rogerson begins to abuse her; which leads to Caitlin falling out of dreamland and into a nightmare.

Caitlin realizes that “being with Rogerson is more of a problem than being without him” (Goodreads Author). The book Dreamland starts out to a rough start. Caitlin’s sister Cass one day leaves to be with her boyfriend in some destination. Her family thinks that she is at the Lamont Whipper Show, a show that Cass used to watch. With Caitlin all caught up in her sister leaving, she goes out to a party one day and meets Rogerson; a tall guy with dreadlocked hair. They begin to date and Caitlin’s mom seems unsure of Rogerson.

She has never met him, Caitlin’s attitude has changed, and she doesn’t spend time with the family anymore. One day Rogerson is going to pick up Caitlin for a date night when her family invites Rogerson inside to play Trivial Pursuit with them. The game is getting heated and Caitlin’s mom doesn’t know the answer to a question when she decides to ask Rogerson. Out of the blue, Rogerson knows the answer to the question. They continue to ask him questions and again and again and he gets them all right.

This is kind of the turning point of the story, Caitlin’s mom’s view of Rogerson changes and she begins to think of him as smart instead of risky. After they leave they go to a party when Caitlin learns a big surprise: Rogerson is a pot dealer. He gets illegal pot and sells it for big money. Later in the book after a date Rogerson invites Caitlin over for a little while. While there, Rogerson’s dad was mad at him and slapped him hard multiple times while Caitlin was hiding in the bathroom. After this, things got bad.

If Caitlin showed up 10 seconds late when he picked her up from school, she would get slapped across her face. This continued to happen and Caitlin’s mom began to worry although Caitlin said “There was just some ice by the mailbox and I slipped”, (Dessen 157), along with other excuses throughout the book. Caitlin began to smoke and get into drugs and Rogerson began to hit her on the neck and shoulders; places that she could cover up with clothes. Finally, one day Caitlin had had enough. Rogerson hit her and she refused to get up. People came running and she heard sirens blazing.

Caitlin’s mom came and in shock by the looks of her daughter said, “Oh, my God, Caitlin. Oh, my God” (Dessen 217). Caitlyn then went to a rehab place, mostly for doing drugs, but partly for grieving the breakup with her boyfriend. The physical climax of the story Dreamland is when Caitlin gets hit for the last time. Like I mentioned in the previous paragraph, Caitlin has had enough and when Rogerson hit her she would not stand up when he asked. This was the physical climax even though she was hit throughout the book she realized she was done.

It started with the first hit, she was confused. With the hits to come she began to get lost. Finally, she began to get angry. She finally realized she could take a stand against Rogerson and overcome her obstacle. The emotional climax of the book Dreamland is when Caitlin went in rehab. Caitlin was really struggling about how to feel about Rogerson. She questioned whether she had done something wrong by letting him hit her or whether it was his fault. Her parents visited her every other day where they would go on walks or do puzzles.

One day her mom brought her her camera, (she had taken up photography as a hobby earlier in the book) and told her that she could document her feelings if she ever wanted to express herself. It took courage but day by day she was able to take pictures. Just one at a time. It started with objects such as flowers but she eventually was able to get up to people. Her mom brought in her pictures of Rogerson, and friends, and family, and a self portrait. It was of Caitlin wearing a white t-shirt and her head cocked to the side with only a small bruise visible on her neck.

She hated that girl in the picture; the girl staring at her with no expression. She “ripped up the picture, one long gash across her face. Then again, and again, tearing the pieces down until they grew smaller and smaller, tiny bits like the stones of a crazy mosaic” (Dessen 227). One day Caitlin received a letter from Cass. She couldn’t open it just yet, she had to wait until she was ready. After Caitlin left rehab she went home to find the biggest surprise of all, Cass. Throughout the book, Dreamland, the author describes Caitlin as if she is swimming.

Caitlin was lost almost as if she was drowning when Rogerson came into her life. She wanted so badly to make him happy because he was all she had. When Caitlin went into rehab it was as if she was trying to learn to swim again. Baby Steps, learning how to use her arms to stay balanced and her feet to propel her. Finally, when Caitlin left rehab and came home to find Cass it was as if she had made it. According to Caitlin, she “concentrated on reaching the surface, feeling the water break across my face as I burst through it into the air to finally breathe on my own” (Dessen 250).