Dreamland

Many young women may not only want to read this story but need to read it as a way to discuss an often overlooked aspect of teenage dating life.

—The Book Report

Dreamland is the secret story of many contemporary teen relationships, a finely drawn portrait of a young woman without a strong sense of self esteem.

—School Library Journal

In Sarah’s Words

Even while I was writing it, I knew Dreamland was different. It had a lot of the elements of the other books, but something kept pulling it deeper, to a place that for me, as a writer, was really challenging. Originally, the story of Caitlin and Rogerson was in another novel I’d written, one which turned out to be mostly terrible. (I have quite a few of those, gathering dust in my office.) But then, on Christmas Day of 1997, I was reading a book and the word dreamland, used in a simple sentence, jumped out at me. I just had this image of a mother standing in a bedroom door, in silhouette, saying something about seeing you in dreamland, and the story started to fall together. I picked the parts about Caitlin and Rogerson from the other book and shaped a story around them, adding in Cass and her story, as well as the other subplots of the book. It was very slow going: I wasn’t teaching that semester, and I wrote every day, really taking my time. There were scenes that were really hard to write, and some days I just had to go into another room and close my eyes for a few seconds to get my bearings. It’s hard to create a character, like Caitlin, on the page and then systematically break her down to nothing before you can begin to build her up again. I think that’s why I relied so much on the humor in Dreamland – the neighbors Boo and Stewart, Rina, anything to lighten to tone here and there. I’ve been really pleased with the reception the book has gotten, and glad that it hasn’t been simply labeled an Issue Book, which makes it sound like I sat down with the intention of writing a story around domestic violence. For me, the book was always about Caitlin, about suddenly having to find your way when someone has always led the way for you before. It’s not always easy, but as she finds, it can be done.