Life Is But A Dream by Brian James
publisher: Feiwel & Friends
release date: March 27th, 2012
hardcover, 234 pages
intended audience: Young adult
source: from publisher for honest review
description: Sabrina, an artist, is diagnosed with schizophrenia, and her parents check her into the Wellness Center. There she meets Alec, who is convinced it's the world that's crazy, not the two of them. They are meant to be together; they are special. But when Alec starts to convince Sabrina that her treatment will wipe out everything that makes her creative, she worries that she'll lose hold of her dreams and herself. Should she listen to her doctor? her decision may have fatal consequences.
Brian James calls Life is But a Dream "the most intense book I've written. Bringing this unique character to life and seeing the world through her eyes, with all its beauty and confusion, was an immense challenge that I hope is just as rewarding to read as it was to write." Intense--yes. Unforgettable--definitely.
Review: Reading Life Is But a Dream is such a strange surreal experience, and one that definitely takes a few pages to really sink into. Sure there have been many book about characters dealing with schizophrenia, but how many have you read that are told from a first person perspective? This was a first time for me, and looking through Sabrina's eyes, with her world full of colors and landscapes that change with the swipe of her hand, and who doesn't know where her dreams end and the real world begins---it is mind-boggling, surreal, and emotionally exhausting. For such a short book, this actually took me most of a week to read because told in her POV, you really feel both the intensity with which she believes in her own way of seeing the world, and her confusion, especially once Alec convinces her to secretly stop her treatment and her world starts to spin out of control. While not a pleasant read by any means, it was incredibly fascinating.
It also showed how caring for someone so much can blind you to seeing what is best for them. In Alec's case, he definitely had some major problems of his own---anger issues, family issues---but I truly believed he loved Sabrina and wanted to believe that her condition was something creative and imaginative, instead of a completely lost grip on reality. As a spectator on their lives, I couldn't help but be angry that he was given so much access to her in the first place! She looked at the world with so much innocence, I just wanted to shake him and yell "You're not helping her!" It was so sad to see him so easily derail her treatment, so heartbreaking to see him think he is helping her when he is hurting her so much in the process.
Beautifully written, and characters that emotionally bind you to them, but a hard, emotionally taxing read.
My favorite quote: "I think about the girls I was friends with in elementary school and junior high and how they now spend so much of their energy hating so many of the things we loved back then because they are afraid of liking something that makes them different. All of them are so hypnotized by the spinning of the world that they don't realize they are simply dizzy."
Visit Brian James' website: www.brianjamestheauthor.blogspot.com
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