When Dreams Come True by Rebecca Emin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Charlie is a young girl in year nine of school who has the perfect set of friends: Max and Toby who indulge her tomboy antics, and Allie, the classic girly-girl who is also Charlie's dear friend and confidante. Since the story begins this way, we know straight off everything will rapidly change and not immediately for the better.
The beginning of this novel is quite different from Ms. Emin's last work, as it lacks the ominous urgency of bullying. Instead we are first shown Charlie's aches at dealing with Allie's new found interest in boys, and her exasperation in Max and Toby who are also struck by puppy love. At first glance it begins to feel like a standard teen romance, which is not entirely my cup of tea but I was enjoying the seamless inclusion of things like text conversations and Facebook status updates that moved along as a natural part of Charlie's very authentic environment. Charlie is a modern girl after all, and like it or not, technology chatting is not going away.
Charlie's world becomes more complicated than just budding feelings of adolescent romance, however. She is becoming increasingly exhausted by a series of very vivid dreams that always involve the ones near and dear to her, including a few that betray Charlie's own curiosity about love and kissing. Then, her beloved Aunt Jenny falls dangerously ill, and the necessary move into her Aunt's fabulous country estate opens up a wonderful new world for Charlie and the reader.
Charlie's dreams become guides for her as she figures out her strange world. Issues like love, kissing, and dating are covered and with some valuable lessons for any young reader of this novel. There is also an element of gothic creepiness, the sort that always follows around a fabulous old house with unexplored nooks and crannies, and then there is the delicious issue of unspoken family secrets just waiting to be dragged into the light. It's easy to root for Charlie because she is so well written that one begins to remember their own curiosities and frustrations at that age.
This is a great book for any young girl to read, and it's also good breezy fun for the casual old gal like me.
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