Dreamland by Sarah Dessen

Penguin Books (2000)

ISBN 9780142401750



Plot Summary

Caitlin is 16 and after her older sister runs away, Caitlin is desperate to make some big changes in her own life at home and push away her oppressive mother. When she meets the mysterious and seductive boy with the dark green eyes, she knows he is trouble but she cannot resist the temptation to try a little danger and adventure for a change. Caitlin is slowly seduced – and reduced – and does not realize this boy may be more than just exciting and moody but could be a danger to her until it is too late for her to stop her feelings from growing. Caitlin and her family learn that abuse can creep in slowly, like a bad dream, and kill things like communication and openness and trust in a relationship but that those things can be regained through love and strength.

Critical Evaluation

The story of misguided love and the spiral of abusive teen relationships, this story explores the uncontrollable cycle of abuse that so many teens encounter in their early relationships. This story is a good one for teens but also parents of teens, as it explores a very difficult and often invisible topic in a way that makes it safe for discussions and consideration when it is only hypothetical.


Reader’s Annotation

When Caitlin meets Rogerson Biscoe, he is brooding and full of mystery. As their relationship grows, he begins to show his true nature and Caitlin soon finds herself intoxicated and intimidated by his power over her. This story is a slow slide into a terrible dream that Caitlin and her family need help together to wake up from.


Information about the Author

Sarah Dessen grew up in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and attended UNC-Chapel Hill, graduating with highest honors in Creative Writing. She is the author of eleven novels, including Someone Like You, Just Listen and The Moon and More. She lives in North Carolina.

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Awards: None

Content Area: English Language Arts/Humanities; Teen Health; Social Justice; Sociology-Drugs; Abuse

Booktalk Ideas


Text Measures/Reading Level

Quantitative: Lexile Level: 920; ATOS 5.8

Interest Age: Upper Grades (9-12)


Mild violence, drug use and mature themes wit sexual content.

Always check the American Library Association website for strategies and tips in handling challenges to library materials at http://www.ala.org/bbooks/challengedmaterials/support/strategies

Additional/Digital Content

Author Website: http://sarahdessen.com/press-kit/

Teen Health: http://kidshealth.org/teen/your_mind/relationships/abuse.html

Teens Against Abusive Relationships: http://www.teensagainstabuse.org/index.php?q=cycle

Why This Book?

Sarah Dessen approaches topics that are of immediate relevance and have immediate impact for teens and this one takes a hard look at abusive teen relationships and how they can arise in the midst of the dreamy “first love” euphoria, only to come crashing down at the first sign of trouble.


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