Dreamland

Kobo eBook available

read instantly on your Kobo or tablet.

buy the ebook now

Dreamland

by Sarah Dessen

Penguin Young Readers Group | May 11, 2004 | Trade Paperback

Dreamland is rated 4.8276 out of 5 by 29.
Love can be a very dangerous thing.
 
After her sister left, Caitlin felt lost.
 
Then she met Rogerson.
 
When she’s with him, nothing seems real.


But what happens when being with Rogerson becomes a larger problem than being without him?
 
“Another pitch-perfect offering from Dessen.” —Booklist, starred review
 
Also by Sarah Dessen:
Along for the Ride
Just Listen
Keeping the Moon
Lock and Key
The Moon and More
Someone Like You
That Summer
This Lullaby
The Truth About Forever
What Happened to Goodbye

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 272 pages, 8.22 × 5.49 × 0.76 in

Published: May 11, 2004

Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0142401757

ISBN - 13: 9780142401750

Appropriate for ages: 13 - 17

save 9%

  • In stock online

$10.44  ea

Online Price

$10.99 List Price

or, Used from $5.04

eGift this item

Give this item in the form of an eGift Card.

+ what is this?

This item is eligible for FREE SHIPPING on orders over $25.
See details

Easy, FREE returns. See details

Item can only be shipped in Canada

Downloads instantly to your kobo or other ereading device. See details

All available formats:

Check store inventory (prices may vary)

Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from My absolute favourite! I read this novel about a year ago and I STILL think about it! It will truly change your view on life and this is by far the best Sarah Dessen novel OF ALL TIME! A must read!
Date published: 2014-07-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Really Thought through. I really like the books by Sarah Dessen so I thought I would try this one. The setting was amazing and told a great part of the story. The plot was amazing and totally surprising. There were a lot of surpises with the ending and thoughout the whole book. The characters amazed me most. They were really well thoughtout and changed thoughout the book depending on what events happened. They really amazed me because I kept picturing myself in their situation and I was just stunned. If you read this book, you will become changed in someone, even if it's only for a short while. :}
Date published: 2012-05-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Scary Good By far the most emotional one. I finally understood that kind of dependence. It was fantastic. Not for the faint of heart or those who wanted a happy ending. Very realistic about modern day, what some women go through and that we all don't have a fairy tale happy ending.
Date published: 2011-05-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from My all time Favorite Ive read this book like 5 times!! Its my favorite by Sarah Dessen for sure!!!
Date published: 2011-04-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from sarah dessen does it again!!! :) while reading this book all i could thinks was OMG whats going to happen now!!! the best sarah dessen book i've read
Date published: 2010-11-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from a must read (according to the comments) i'm looking forward to reading this book after reading the summary and a few comments below . i am sure i will enjoy reading it and will be addicted to it just like most of yah'll (: . thanks to all who wrote down a comment suggesting to read it ! i am also looking forward to read more from Sarah Dessen .
Date published: 2009-09-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Her best This was the first Dessen book I read, and I was hooked.It was intense and I couldn't tear myself away, It took my a smidgen over one sitting to finish this one. I've recommended it to all of my friends and they thought it just as great as I.
Date published: 2009-09-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great! This had a different plot than some of her other books, but it was still great! The reader is able to feel for Caitlin's situation. I couldn't put this book down, I read it all in one sitting! Read this book!
Date published: 2009-07-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from AWESOME AWESOME AWESOME I read this book in a DAY because its SOOO ADDICTING. OMG, this is one of the best books you'll ever read, this is a page-turning book. Its so real, it isnt like those fake books that talk abot having a perfect life, perfect book and like a perfect apearance. IF YOUR HAVING DOUBTS BUYING THOSE BOOK - TRUST ME, YOU MUST BUY IT. ITS SOOO GOOD! :)
Date published: 2009-04-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Emotionally Gripping- Couldn't Put It Down This was my first time reading a novel by Sarah Dessen and I was quite impressed! The novel drew me in within the first few pages and I refused to put the book down until I was finished, which was only a couple hours later. After Caitlin's perfect sister suddenly runs away on Caitlin's 16th birthday, her family is left devastated at to why she would do such a thing. Her parents, especially her mother, are withdrawn and are taking it very hard. Caitlin feels lost- like a part of herself is slipping away and that she's just invisible. She's been living in the shadow of her sister but now she doesn't know what to do.... all she knows is that is she wants to make her own path. Then she meets Rogerson Biscoe. Smart, rich, mysterious- she feels like she can be anyone when she's with him. But he's a bad influence, and soon, it becomes more dangerous for Caitlin to be with Rogerson than without him. The novel was emotionally gripping and I wanted to help Caitlin, even though I couldn't. Her life is getting out of control but she doesnt know what to do. I was almost in tears by the end as Caitlin finds the courage to begin the road to healing.
Date published: 2009-03-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very Good I don't want to give any spoilers but I really liked this book. I am a fan of Sarah Dessen and this novel was no exception. :)
Date published: 2009-03-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Brilliant work of fiction, but with truth behind it I read Dreamland a couple years ago and although it's found in the "Teen Fiction" section, it will be a book that I never get rid of. The lead character is someone you can completely relate too (at least I could). Although this book is fiction, you can see how a real person could fall into the traps she did, and why she didn't do anything before she did. I really could see someone in my life going down this same path, just because many women years older than the lead character of this story have gone down it.
Date published: 2008-11-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from AWESOME! Its one of those books that are dark, but very,very good. when i ht the climax, i couldnt put it down!! GREAT JOB SARAH DESSEN!
Date published: 2008-09-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One Of the Best books I have EVER read!! I have read numerous Sarah Dessen books, but this one was my favourite. It was really well writen and every teen should read this. I learned a lot from this book. It seemed so real as a previous review stated. The protagonist Caitlin very easy to relate to and understand her actions. Seriously I just can't get over how amazing this book is. IF you only want to read one Sarah Dessen book this one is for you!! It's a keeper for sure:)
Date published: 2008-06-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!! This book was absolutely amazing. Once I started reading it I couldn't stop. Sarah Dessen is such an amazing writer. BUY THIS BOOK!
Date published: 2008-05-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Emotionally Touching Caitlin, has met someone new *Rogerson* who changes her life, after Caitlin has seen Rogerson's father hit him. But something goes all wrong when Caitlin shows up late and doesn't do what shes told. Caitlin's true identity is slipping away from herself and she ends up lost in a twisted world when she's with Rogerson, where she can't take real facts. Whats happens to Caitlin when life gets too serious? Truly, one of my favourite books, really, i couldn't stop crying. I recommend this to anyone. Shows how confusing things can be and relationships between families and boyfriends. I can never stop reading over the good parts in this book. I have just lent it to my friend who seems to be really getting into it. I ♥ it soo MUCH!
Date published: 2008-02-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Incredible This Book, was really just so amazing, I usually finish a book in one day but for this book, I wanted to cherish every single word of it. I cried a lot in this book, everything the author says you could take and relate it to you on a very personal level, cause she really knows what going through hardship is like, and the way she ends every chapter leaves you saying, " wow" it is a truly incredible read.
Date published: 2007-07-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from LOVED IT IT WAS SO GOOD This book was one of my favourites. I loved how everything was all messed up and she gave it ALL up to be with a guy that only hurt her. It was so... UHHHHH just REALLY good i already recommended it to all my friends.
Date published: 2007-03-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Incredible! There is something about Sarah Dessens books that make her like no other author. I am estatic the moment a get a new book by her. Theres something that just makes me crazy if i dont jump into the book right away. This book is incredible, sad, heartwarming and terryfing all at once! I highly recommend it! Monika
Date published: 2006-08-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from a true book when i first started reading this book, thats all i did, i read it; but as i went along i started to get really involved in the book and it was basicly what i hav gone through this past year. i lost someone, i turned to a new person, and i was blinded of how wrong it was for me, but in the end, like Caitlin, i got my own life back. This book is so good, and so real, i recomend it to everyone!
Date published: 2005-07-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Excellent! This book captivated how a family can change your perception in life for better but in Caitlin's case for the worse. After her perfect sister run's away her parents are left to deal with the grief and Caitlin finds it hard to deal too. After unexpextedly finding Roggerson she thinks she has the perfect boyfriend even though she knows his past reputation isn't very good. But soon into the relationship problems arise and Caitlin is caught in a dilemma. What will she do? This book will show every girl the weakness they really can have if they' ve met the perfect guy and the process of healing that takes place when your heart is crushed.
Date published: 2005-06-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Dreamland Sarah Dessen is one of the most amazing authors. She gets deep into the character and draws you in. Dreamland is one of those books you read over and over again, and no matter how many times I read it, I cry. I cry from the middle, when Caitlin really sees Rogerson for the first time, until the end, when she thinks about all the love and support she has recieved from her friends and family. I've read it over a dozen times and there has not been one time when I didn't cry. Wondering how a book can get to me that much? Only a well written, magical, amazing piece can do that, Dreamland is all that and more.
Date published: 2005-02-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from tremendous this was a very captivating book that draws you in the beginning and leaves you feeling satisfied come the ending.. i highly reccomend it.
Date published: 2004-11-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Holy Crap!!!!! That was Amazing!!! Oh my god!!! that was an amazing story!!! i had read a few of sarah dessen's books before which were also very, very good, but this one was real. I thought it was an amazing story!! i couldn't put it down. I've been looking for a long time for a story, or actually an author that can really write about REAL LIFE and this book topped the charts!!! Definitely read it!!!
Date published: 2004-10-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from AMAZING!!!!!!!!!!!!! The novel Dreamland is the second novel that I've read by Sarah Dessen, the first was Someone Like You. These are both AWESOME & AMAZING novels. They capture the sense, character and the overall feeling. Please don't stop writing!!!!!!!!!!
Date published: 2004-08-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from just wondering... I just read this book, and it was amazing, but i was just wondering if there is any connection between the rogerson biscoe, the abusive guy in this book, and roger briscoe, an abusive man in the book 'where the heart is' by Billie Letts. (also a MUST read!)
Date published: 2004-07-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from simply great!! Dreamland was awesome!! im 14, and i love reading but this book stood out. it deals with mature subjects, but it was a very real book. This book was very well writen, and i couldn't put the book down!!
Date published: 2003-07-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from For once, a real read for teens. This book teaches some major lessons through one teenage girls life. It's uncensored, unlike most novels aimed towards teens, and the reality is raw. Dessen explains her characters down to a tee, every one of them has a downside, which is a relief. If you have ever been compared to a sibling or anybody for that matter, I suggest this book. The main character, Caitlin takes the differences between her older, 'perfect' runaway sister to major lengths, to the point where Caitlin's in danger. But she's in a dreamland. She doesn't realize how serious it all is. All she knows is that she isn't her sister, and that's what she wants. Covering topics such as: Virginity, Drugs, Annoying mothers, Individuality, Abuse and more. A very emotional read. Get it!
Date published: 2002-12-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from By far the best one! This is Dessen's best book I've ever read!(so far) It took me no more than 3-4 hours, I just couldn't put it down. It was honest, yet for a mature audience, but very well written. Awesome job, keep up the good work... I can't wait for the next one from this author...she's on fire!
Date published: 2002-06-03

– More About This Product –

Dreamland

by Sarah Dessen

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 272 pages, 8.22 × 5.49 × 0.76 in

Published: May 11, 2004

Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0142401757

ISBN - 13: 9780142401750

About the Book

Four classic novels by acclaimed author Sarah Dessen ("The Lullaby") are now reissued in paperback with striking new covers.

Read from the Book

CHAPTER ONE When I was four and Cass was six, she whacked me across the face with a plastic shovel at our neighborhood park. We were in the sand box, and it was winter: In the pictures, we''re in matching coats and hats and mittens. My mother loved to dress us alike, like twins, since we were only two years apart. We did look alike, with the same round face and dark eyes and the same brown hair. But we weren''t the same, even then. The story goes like this: Cass had the shovel and I wanted it. My mother was sitting watching us on a bench with Boo, who had her camera and was snapping pictures. This was at Commons Park, the small grassy area in the center of our neighborhood, Lakeview. Besides the sandboxes it also had a swing set, one of those circular things you push real fast and then jump on—a kind of manual merry-go-round— and enough grass to play baseball or kickball. Cass and I spent most of the afternoons of our childhood at Commons Park, but the shovel incident is what we both always remembered. Not that we ourselves recalled it that well. We had just heard the story recounted so many times over the years that it was easy to take the details and fold them into our own sparse memories, embellishing here or there to fill in the blanks. It is said that I reached for the shovel and Cass wouldn''t give it to me, so I grabbed her hand and tried to yank it away. A struggle ensued, which must have looked harmless until Cass somehow scraped one hard plastic edge acr
read more read less

From the Publisher

Love can be a very dangerous thing.
 
After her sister left, Caitlin felt lost.
 
Then she met Rogerson.
 
When she’s with him, nothing seems real.


But what happens when being with Rogerson becomes a larger problem than being without him?
 
“Another pitch-perfect offering from Dessen.” —Booklist, starred review
 
Also by Sarah Dessen:
Along for the Ride
Just Listen
Keeping the Moon
Lock and Key
The Moon and More
Someone Like You
That Summer
This Lullaby
The Truth About Forever
What Happened to Goodbye

About the Author

Sarah Dessen is one of the most popular writers for young adults. She is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of many novels, which have received numerous awards and rave reviews, and have sold more than seven million copies. She lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, with her husband, Jay, and their daughter, Sasha Clementine. Visit her online at www.sarahdessen.com.

From the Author

"I was born in 1970 in Illinois, but all the life I remember I’ve spent in Chapel Hill, NC. My parents were both professors at the University of North Carolina: my mom is a classicist (which means she knows everything you could ever imagine about myths, Latin, and words) and my dad teaches Shakespeare (which means I’d seen  As You Like It  about five times by the age of 18.) I have one brother, who is a musician and lives in California with his son and his wife, an artist who designed my personal website. (Thanks, Mariangeles!) "I’ve been writing, in one way or another, for as long as I can remember. I was always a big reader, mostly because my parents were. I used to get frustrated with my mom because she bought me books for Christmas when what I really wanted were the gifts my friends got, things like sweaters and jewelry. But I did love to read. When I was eight or nine my parents gave me an old manual typewriter and a little desk in the corner of our den, and I’d sit there and type up my stories. I was the kind of kid that people always sighed over and said, "She has such a wild imagination," which usually meant "I wish Sarah would try to stick to the truth." I have a tendency to embellish: I think it’s just a weakness of fiction writers. Once you learn how to make a story better, it’s hard not to do it all the time. "In high school, I was lucky enough to have a big group of girlfriends that have really inspired a lot of the s
read more read less

Editorial Reviews

"It''s not only the plot that''s vivid; the characters are also intensely real. Another pitch-perfect offering from Dessen." (Booklist, starred review)

Bookclub Guide

INTRODUCTION

When he hit me, I didn''t see it coming, It was just a quick blur, a flash out of the corner of my eye, and then the side of my face just exploded, burning, as his hands slammed against me.

Strange, sleepy Rogerson, with his long brown dreads and brilliant green eyes, had seemed to Caitlin to be an open door. With him she could be anybody, not just the second-rate shadow of her two-years-older sister Cass. But now she is drowning in the vacuum Cass left behind when she turned her back on her family''s expectations. Caitlin wanders in a dreamland of drugs and a nightmare of sudden fists, trapped in her search for herself.

As violence becomes more and more prevalent in our world, one out of every five teenage girls in America will be beaten by a dating partner, and one third to one half of married women will be victims of abuse. Yet shame, fear, and assumed guilt keeps many in conspiracy of silence about this widespread but invisible anguish. Why do girls allow themselves to get into such relationships—and what keeps them there?

In this riveting novel, Sarah Dessen searches for understanding and answers through the mind of a young girl who suddenly finds herself in a trap of constant menace, a trap that is baited with love and need. More and more she must frantically manage her every action to avoid being hit by the hands that had seemed so gentle. All around Caitlin are women who care—best friends, mother, sister, mentor—but she can confide in none of them, especially not Cass, her brilliant older sister, whose own flight from home had seemed to point the way for Caitlin.

Dessen has here created a subtle and compelling work of literature that goes far beyond the problem novel in a story rich with symbolism, dark scenes of paralyzing dread, quirky and memorable characters, and gleams of humor. With the consummate skill and psychological depth that brought her praise for Keeping the Moon, she explores the search for self-identity, the warmth of feminine friendships, and the destructive ways our society sets up young women for love gone wrong.


ABOUT SARAH DESSEN

Sarah Dessen grew up in Chapel Hill, where she teaches fiction writing at the University of North Carolina and recently married her high school sweetheart. Dreamland is her fourth novel for young people.


FOR FURTHER REFLECTION

Books by Sarah Dessen:

Dreamland
HC: 0-670-89122-3, $15.99 ($22.99 CAN)

Keeping the Moon
HC: 0-670-88549-5, $15.99 ($22.99 CAN)
PB: 0-14-131007, $5.99 ($8.99 CAN)

Someone Like You
HC: 0-670-87778-6, $16.99 ($23.99 CAN)
PB: 0-14-130269-0, $4.99 ($6.99 CAN)

That Summer
PB: 0-14-038688-2, $5.99 ($8.99 CAN)


RELATED TITLES:

I Never Asked You to Understand Me

by Barthe DeClements
Puffin Books, 0-14-130059-0, $ 4.99 ($ 6.99 CAN)
In a school for "dropouts and druggies," Didi finds friends who help her put her life back together after his mother''s death.

Zero at the Bone
by Michael Cadnum
Viking Children''s Books, 0-670-86725-X, $ 15.99 ($ 22.99 CAN)
Puffin Books, 0-14-038628-9, $ 4.99 ($ 6.99 CAN)
After Cray''s older sister Anita doesn''t come home that night—or ever—he and his family are left searching for reasons for her disapperance.

When She Was Good
by Norma Fox Mazer
Scholastic Paperbacks
Em''s huge, dangerous big sister Pamela is dead, but her voice goes on telling Em that she''s stupid and bad and deserves to be hit.

Breaking Free from Partner Abuse
by Mary Marecek
Morning Glory Press
A simply written little book that uses quotes from abused women, poetry, and helpful advice, to drive home the message that "people aren''t for hitting." Includes 16 page mini-lesson on abuse.

Resources to Help Stop Partner Violence:

If you or someone you know is having trouble with partner violence, here are some organizations that you can turn to.

National Domestic Violence Hotline

Tel: 1-800-799-SAFE

Advice, comfort, and referral for teens in violent relationships, available 24 hours a day.

"Love Doesn''t Have to Hurt Teens"

www.apa.org/pi/pii/teen

A teen-friendly website, sponsored by the American Psychological Association, that offers counsel to girls who think they may be headed for an abusive relationship.

National Resource Center on Domestic Violence

Tel: 1-800-537-2238
www.pcadv.org

A referral organization that works to develop national and local programs and distributes materials, like their guide for parents, "Helping Teens Stop Violence."

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

Tel: 1-303-839-1852
www.ncadv.org

A gathering of organizations and groups working to stop partner abuse. Distributors of the "Rough Love" video and teaching guide.


A CONVERSATION WITH SARAH DESSEN

How did you get started writing young adult fiction?

To be honest, I fell into it. But it is a voice that really works for me, partially because I live in my home town, and I''m very close to all of my friends from high school. A lot of my memories are very vivid because I''m still in the same place. It''s easy to reach back when you drive past your high school at least once a week.

Tell me how you came to write about dating violence.

I''ve had several friends—not myself personally, because I''ve been dating the same person since high school—who have been in bad relationships like this and I didn''t know until years later. Teenage girls are evolving so much and it''s so easy—the first time when you fall in love especially—to think maybe this is just the way it''s supposed to be, or "Nobody will ever love me again." You don''t have the strength that you would have later, to walk away. In writing this book there was such a sense of having to be very, very careful with this topic and very responsible with it.

Because you may have readers who are in this situation looking to you for answers.

Exactly, although this is not a problem novel. I also felt I had to be responsible about the role of marijuana in the story. I worried that when Corinna and Caitlin are sitting on the couch together for endless afternoons looking at television and smoking pot that it was going to seem frivolous, like I was making it seem attractive. But Caitlin uses it to dull her senses, and Rogerson is the one who starts her on it, and it''s what enables her to endure his abuse. So I definitely needed it there, and I''m prepared for controversy.

Did your editor feel the same way?

I was so glad I was with Deborah Brodie for this book, because she allowed me to be true to my voice; she was respectful in not wanting to tinker with things too much, and that was great. And she has amazing insight—I could not have done better!

 


DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
  • In the first chapter, Sarah Dessen not only puts us immediately in the midst of the action and introduces us to all the major characters in her story, but she drops hints about ideas and events that will be important in the novel. For instance, Caitlin stumbles over Cass''s gift as she leaves her room, "whacking my face on a hall light switch." Later, her parents are too distraught over Cass''s departure to notice Caitlin''s injury—a pattern that foreshadows the violence to come. What other clues are embedded in the chapter that point to symbols and themes that will be explored later?
     
  • The idea of "Dreamland" as a place of refuge is central to the story, as the title suggests. What childhood events establish this picture in Caitlin''s mind? Why is it significant that Cass has given Caitlin a dream journal and what does she imply in her cryptic message to her sister: "I''ll see you there"? Trace how the meaning of the word later changes for Caitlin as she retreats into a drugged sleepiness and thinks, "This Dreamland was preferable, walking through this life half-sleeping, everything at arm''s length or farther away." Who else in the novel is in Dreamland? Find a passage at the end of the novel that suggests that Dreamland could become a more hopeful idea.
     
  • Explaining Cass''s flight, Boo says, "It''s so easy to get caught up in what people expect of you. Sometimes, you can just lose yourself." In what way does this also describe Caitlin''s situation? Both sisters are trying to find an identity by stepping outside of other people''s expectations. In what ways are their attempts at taking control alike? How do they differ? Do you think women often try to find their own selves by their choice of a man?
     
  • What has been the effect on Caitlin of following in the footsteps of her older and more talented sister all her life? How does the scar on her eyebrow that Cass inflicted sum up those feelings? On the other hand, what different meaning does the scar hold for Cass? What scenes dramatize this? Why is Caitlin particularly anxious to hide Rogerson''s abuse from her? In the end Cass, with unconscious irony, writes in a letter yo her sister, "You were always able to make your choices based on you and what you wanted, nothing else." How and why can she be so wrong?
     
  • In a striking scene from Caitlin''s childhood, Boo uses the little girl''s play with a Barbie doll to drive home a feminist lesson. "She can be anything—and so can you," she tells Caitlin—whose own mother has never noticed that fact. What small evidence can you find that this message has not been entirely wasted on the teenage Caitlin, even as she goes through her cheerleading routines and surrenders her life to Rogerson?
     
  • When Caitlin first chooses to go with Rogerson, even though they know nothing about each other, she thinks, "I could have been anybody, and it made everything possible." What is it about Rogerson that makes him so perfectly suited to Caitlin''s need? Before he turns violent, we—and Caitlin—learn only seemingly unrelated facts about Rogerson''s past, his family, his likes and dislikes, his behavior quirks and odd abilities. What are the missing pieces in this enigmatic personality, and can you guess at the rest of the picture? What do you think is the particular quality in Caitlin that makes her so attractive to him?
     
  • The first time Rogerson hits Caitlin, it comes out of nowhere as a complete shock—for us as well as her. Yet, on another level, we''re not really surprised. We knew some things about him that should have been warning signals. What were they? Obviously, Caitlin should leave him immediately at this point. Why is this impossible for her, and why does it become increasingly impossible as his violence escalates? Sketch out a scene as to what might have happened if she had been able to walk away from him after the first attack. Would it really have ended there? Or not?
     
  • The affectionate portrayals of New Agers Boo and Stewart, with their tempeh salads and wise comments, lighten this powerfully dark novel. Do you think they have remained fast friends with the O''Korens only—as Caitlin supposes—because they live next door? Rina, too, who has issues with men, brings some comic relief to the story, and she and Caitlin are another unlikely friendship. What do you think holds them together? And why is Caitlin unable to confide in her about the abuse?
     
  • Corinna, another woman who has run away from her parents'' world, is also a mismatched friend for Caitlin, who thinks that they have "a lot in common." Even though their backgrounds and interests are so different, in what ways is this true? When Corinna makes a safe haven for Caitlin, how is it both comforting and destructive for both of them? When Corinna finally finds the courage to leave Dave, what do her silver bracelets come to symbolize to Caitlin, and how does the wearing of them affect her decisions?
     
  • One of the most puzzling paradoxes about Rogerson is his gentleness as a lover, as contrasted with his violence. Find evidence of his patience toward Caitlin in sexual matters and his insensitivity to her needs in all other ways. What in his background could explain this and why is it such a powerful tool in gaining her trust? In a related paradox, what two kinds of "hits" does he give her and how do they work together?
     
  • Caitlin is tempted several times to tell her mother what is going on with Rogerson, but she cannot begin to break through her parent''s complete obliviousness that something is wrong. A poignant example is the moment when her father carefully spreads ashes on the slippery sidewalk because Caitlin has blamed a fall on the ice for the abrasions on her face. Find other examples of their loving intentions coupled with blindness to the reality of the situation. In a way, are these metaphors for most parent/child interactions in adolescence?
     
  • Sarah Dessen builds an almost unbearably escalating sense of dread into the climatic scene of the novel. We can almost hear the throbbing drums in the background as Caitlin, who has been bullied by Rina into going off to the lake, frantically tries to telephone a dangerously furious Rogerson. Imagine you are shooting this scene as a movie. How would you underscore the rising terror and tension with film techniques like jump cuts, close ups, long shots, distorted focus, special effects, computer graphics? What music would you choose? Where would you end the scene?
     
  • Much of the richness of the language of this novel comes from the many symbols that amplify the meaning of the story, and we have discussed several of these already, like the scar and the silver bracelets. Others to explore are the black BMW, the staring rows of dolls, the pyramid, Caitlin''s photographs. An extended metaphor that brings the book home to a satisfying conclusion is drawn from T.S. Eliot''s poem, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock." A literary interpretation of this passage is clearly laid out by a bright student in Caitlin''s English class. How do the elements of this metaphor—the mermaid''s song, the voices calling, water and drowning at the surface—come to represent salvation to Caitlin in her turmoil? In this context, react to the last sentence, in which Caitlin feels "the water break across my face as I burst through it into the air to finally breathe on my own."
     
  • Patty Campbell is a longtime critic, librarian, editor, writer, and teacher in the field of young adult literature. She was the winner of the 1989 Grolier Award for distinction in the service of young adults and reading.

    Appropriate for ages: 13 - 17