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Book Review: Life is But a Dream

Thursday, April 5, 2012
Life is But a Dream
by Brian James

3 stars: A Good Book
Format: Hardback
Publication: March 27, 2012
Pages: 234
Author: Website | Facebook | Twitter
Publisher: Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group
Buy it: Amazon (Hardcopy) | KindleB&N | Book Depository

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.

Life is But a Dream takes us into the mind of a girl whose world has been taken away from her through the incurable illness schizophrenia. Flashbacks develop Sabrina's life, highlighting the changes in her as her condition deteriorates. There is what she knows to be truth and what she think to be truth and all her insecurities. There is much sadness in the novel, and I hurt and wavered along with Sabrina as she tried to make sense of her life.

It takes time to make sense of Sabrina's, and I'm still not sure I can completely relate to her. Sabrina wants to believe she has control over her life; at the same timer her sense of helplessness causes her to hold the reader at bay. Hope comes into the story through Alec, who has also been placed in the mental facility. While the two fall for each other, Alec isn't the best person for a healthy relationship. He feeds Sabrina ideas that have a negative impact on her state of mind.

This is definitely not a light read, but it is well worth checking out. Schizophrenia is still a big mystery to many people, even to the ones who dedicate their lives to studying this mental disorder. Brian James has portrayed schizophrenia in a manner that showcases both the despair and the beauty in the disorder. In the process, he has also opened the pages to another way of viewing the world.

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher. No payment was received in return for a review. The receipt of the book had no influence on the opinions expressed in my review.
4 comments on "Book Review: Life is But a Dream"
  1. It's great that authors are tackling something as difficult as mental health problems in YA. There's such a needless taboo about it and maybe these books will teach more tolerance.

  2. This book didn't jump at me like I thought it would. The relations between Sabrina and Alec took me through an angry phase for the most part but what made me like the book in the end, was both the bittersweet ending and the fluid writing. Thank you for the review!

    Rondo of a Possible World

  3. I agree. If we don't learn about such topics, then how can we try to relate to them and the people with close associations to them?

  4. I really liked the writing in this book-I found it very easy to read and it was definitely my favorite part as it brought me into the world of the story.


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