Dreamland by Sarah Dessen

Ever since she started going out with Rogerson Biscoe, Caitlin seems to have fallen into a semiconscious dreamland where nothing is quite real. Rogerson is different from anyone Caitlin has ever known. He's magnetic. He's compelling. He's dangerous. Being with him makes Caitlin forget about everything else-her missing sister, her withdrawn mother, her lackluster life. But what happens when being with Rogerson becomes a larger problem than being without him?

This is the only book by Sarah Dessen that I haven’t read at this point. I discovered Sarah back in seventh grade, and I don’t know why I’ve held off on reading Dreamland for so long. I think it’s the fact than whenever I saw it at the book store, there was always something I wanted just a little bit more, so this book just fell off my radar. Then I saw it at Borders and got it pretty cheap, so now I have the complete Dessen collection on my shelf.
Dreamland did not disappoint writing wise. My favorite thing about Dessen’s writing is her beautiful prose, her ability to just sweep you away with her writing. The way she crafts her words is truly something. That said, Dreamland was her fourth books, and I definitely see the improvement in her writing her latest books. Her books are always filled with quotable quotes galore.
This is definitely the darkest of Dessen’s novels. Caitlin always felt like she lived in her sister Cassandra’s shadow, so when Cass ran away to New York at the beginning of the book, it left Caitlin empty, not quite knowing who she was. She struggles to find her own path and make her own decisions. Her mother is withdrawn and indifferent at first, because Cass and Cass’s activities were her own world. Soon enough, she begins throwing herself into Caitlin and her activities as well. In the midst of struggling with all this, Caitlin meets Rogerson Biscoe. Brilliant, gorgeous, abusive, Rogerson. I applaud Dessen for her ability to craft this so realistically. Of course, the abuse wasn’t right away. He even portrays many likable qualities.
While this was a powerful story filled with brilliant prose, I just didn’t like it as much as Dessen’s other novels…completely for personal reasons. I could never truly sympathize with Caitlin and her decisions. And it’s nothing Dessen did, it’s just my personal feelings. My belief that no woman should take being hit by someone who supposedly loves you. I get that Caitlin felt like she needed Rogerson, and I get why she felt that way. But at parts I just wanted to smack some sense into the girl.
And Rogerson. I’m so used to falling in love with Dessen’s boys. Wes from The Truth About Forever, Owen from Just Listen, Dexter from This Lullaby. But I HATED Rogerson. I mean, I was supposed to hate him, but still. And yet Dessen throws in these bits of information that almost makes me feel bad for him at moments. It’s so wrong… yet from a psychological standpoint I do understand why he is the way he is. That doesn’t mean I can’t hate his actions and the way he treats Caitlin though.
Dreamland is a realistic portrayal of a girl struggling to find herself in the midst of chaos. I definitely recommend it if you’re looking for a book with this sort of plot…as there are not too many books out there like it to my knowledge. I found myself rooting for Caitlin at the end of this book, waiting for her to finally wake up.