Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

Dreamland

Dessen, Sarah (Author)
Penguin Random House 2012. 250 pages
First published: 2000
ISBN: 9780142401750 (paperback)
9780670891221 (hardcover)
9781101042298 (e-book)
Original language: English
Book type: Novel
Book genre: Realistic

Text Elements:

characterization, conflict, evocative language, point of view

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

This story of one teenager’s unlucky descent into an abusive relationship offers a helpful and nuanced perspective, with questions about women’s roles in society at large: “I think your Barbie can go shopping, and go out with Ken, and have a productive and satisfying career of her own.”

An abundance of sympathetic female characters show a variety of feminine models, such as free-spirited neighbour Boo, boy-crazy best friend Rina, Caitlin’s stay-at-home mother, sole-household earner Corinna, and more. Caitlin’s own identity is still forming: she feels overshadowed by her successful older sister, pushed into cheerleading and gradually absorbed into her boyfriend Rogerson’s violent orbit: “‘I’m fine,’ I said again. ‘It doesn’t even hurt anymore.’”

Personal boundaries and minor co-dependencies are depicted, along with a variety of healthy love relationships, as Caitlin confuses the idea of giving oneself with losing oneself: “I was tired. Worn thin, my springs broken, spokes shattered. I felt old and brittle.” The book’s message of resilience and identity-forging is reflected in Caitlin’s newly discovered interest in photography and her dawning self-acceptance as she muses on what she could have done differently: “But each place I’d thought to stop meant missing something that came later, like Corinna, all my photographs, even this time at Evergreen that was helping me find that bit of peace again. I needed it all, in the end, to make my own story find its finish.”

  •  

    This realistic romance offers readers opportunities to explore the warning signs of abusive relationships. Read the opening chapter as a group and discuss how the book is set up in the beginning. Practise making predictions about how the story may unfold.

  •  

    In small groups, discuss the way Caitlin is characterized initially. Return to the discussion during reading to make comparisons and discuss how she has changed.

  •  

    Use the novel as part of a text set that explores issues related to violence in dating relationships. Following reading and discussion, use a production process to write an expository text on the topic (opinion piece, article, etc.).

  •  

    What do you consider a deal breaker in a romantic relationship? Make a short list of reasons to immediately end a relationship. Pair up with a partner, compare answers and, together, think of reasons why people stay in toxic relationships.

  •  

    Caitlin mentions several things she likes about being in a relationship with Rogerson. What are those things? Do you believe they trump Rogerson’s shortcomings? Why?

  •  What would happen if Caitlin met Rogerson at the Quik Zip one month after her stay at Evergreen Care Center? Write the dialogue Caitlin and Rogerson might have.
  • To communicate appropriately
  • To exercise critical judgment
  • Health and Well-Being
  • Personal Development
  • Social Sciences