Life Is But A Dream
Author: Brian James
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Release Date: 3-27-12
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. – Goodreads
Life Is But A Dream is told from the perspective of a teen who is in a treatment facility after being diagnosed with acute schizophrenia. In bits and pieces, you learn of the circumstances that brought her to the facility and the confusion she experiences as she tries to separate reality from the colorful world that exists inside her mind. When a fellow patient named Alec comes into the picture, it seems like a chance for a something good, but his own anger at his situation starts to influence Sabrina in negative ways. The reader is brought along on a sad and disturbing road that leads to what might be Sabrina’s final descent over the edge. The imagery and symbols that Sabrina attaches to people and things as a part of her illness is described in fluid and colorful writing. It’s an enchanting world in some ways, but you can’t help but hold back and wonder where the bottom of the well is for Sabrina.
I found this book to be fascinating and heartbreaking. Being in Sabrina’s head is both disorienting and beautiful. I can see how she found comfort in her ability to disappear from the world as her illness started to take over and make everything so confusing. Alec’s role in her downward spiral was horrifying for me, but I was surprised at how sympathetic a character he turned out to be by the end of the book. Since I’m reading this as an adult, I really, really felt for Sabrina’s parents. I could feel their helplessness through Sabrina’s observations of their reactions to her increasingly strange behavior. The flashbacks that Sabrina retreats to when she wants to remember happier and more stable times broke my heart right in half. This book was a very intense reading experience because of the point of view and because you really didn’t know if things would ever really get better for Sabrina. Although the ending wasn’t sad, it wasn’t tied in a neat little bow, either, and I think that made the book even more powerful.
I received this book as a galley from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.