Life is But a Dream

Title: Life is But a Dream
Author: Brian James
Pub: Feiwei & Friends; 2012
Pages: 240
Genre: Young Adult, Realistic Fiction, Mental Illness
Etc: props up to NetGalley

first - AHHHH, look at that cover?!  Isn't that just one of **the** most beautiful covers you've ever seen? Fabulous!

I'm a lover of all things crazy. And especially mental illness crazy.  If the setting is in a psychiatric ward or old school insane asylum, I'm sold.  Sign me up, close the deal, finalize the deed. Because of this reason, obvs I was the perfect candidate to read this book.

Sabrina is diagnosed with schizophrenia and after one shattering incident involving her and her school mates, her parents determine that there is no other way to help her but to commit her to a hospital.  Sabrina is seriously devastated.  She gets that she's different, that she sees the world differently, but why is it a problem now? Then she meets Alec, another patient in the hospital who claims that all the doctors are brainwashing them.  They are normal and must stick together.  Alec and Sabrina risk a lot to be together, including reality.

There were so many brilliant and realistic things about this book.  James did a stunning job creating Sabrina and her illness.  He captured how it facilitated her artwork and her views of the world, how magical and yet still disconcerting it was to walk in this unreal world.  I immediately reminisced on lectures about Carl Rogers, an amazing therapist and theorist, who believed that if we wanted to work with schizophrenics we needed to join their world rather than force them into ours.  James opened the door to that world.  Kudos. Seriously.

Here's some beautiful quotes from the book:

I don't know why, but something about it feels wrong - feels like the computer is trying to read my mind. I start to wonder if the more information I feed into it, the more real the fake me becomes . If I keep giving away pieces of me, it will take my place. It disturbs me to even think about it. (124)

The old couple, they were static people. They are the first I've seen since going to the hospital. The first to show it outwardly anyway, because I still have my suspicions about Dr. Richards and some of the nurses and the girl who wanted me to stay away from Alec. Out here they don't hide. out here they are stronger and will attack like vampires. (112)

It makes me nervous to view the chaos that comes with people acting independently. Coming face-to-face with the world, I feel anxious - like being shut in a dark closet with a hidden ghoul breathing on my neck. (106)

This is the first kiss that makes my mouth thirsty and my legs melt. (98)

I believe sometimes my dreams are memories from the future. Sometimes they are about places I will go someday or people that I'm going to know but don't know yet. (10)

They are blinded by distractions. But I can tune out all of the noise that fills the world like so much screaming in the sky. I know how to stand still even when the Earth spins faster and faster than it ever did before. The rest of them try to keep up with the rhythm until makes them dizzy. And with dizzy eyes, they stare at me and say I'm crazy. (8)

BUT - and there's always a but, isn't there?  Although James characters are fleshed out and realistic, the actual plot and grandiose ending was so over the top I couldn't help but cringe.  I won't give away anything relevant because there are parts of the experience worth reading, especially since it only took me a couple of hours.  I'm hoping to find something better out of this author in the future.  It looks like he's written a lotAny suggestions for those of you who have read books by him??

1 comment:

  1. I'm curious about this one, especially because I haven't come across many representations of mental illness in YA. I wonder how I'd feel about the ending.


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