Thursday, February 25, 2010
Dream Life by Lauren Mechling. Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House. 2010. Review copy from publisher.
The Plot: Claire Voyante has a gift: psychic abilities that help her solve mysteries. Naturally, it's not something she shares with her fellow students at Henry Hudson High School. Of her family, its her grandmother, Kiki, who knows her secret gift and helps her come to terms with it. Sequel to Dream Girl.
The Good: Claire's abilities are not a straightforward roadmap. Rather, they are dreamlike clues to something. Wearing the onyx and ivory cameo necklace that Kiki gave Claire on Claire's fifteenth birthday helps; so, too, does Claire being observant enough to interpret her dreams and apply them to the real world.
Claire is not a rich kid, even if she does have a well-off grandmother who passes down designer duds and a best friend, Becca, who is a rich girl from an old New York family. Claire is secretly dating/not-dating Becca's brother, Andrew. Claire is a bit insecure about this, and when Becca starts hanging out with her prep school friends from similar privileged backgrounds Claire thinks she has lost her friend. It doesn't help that Andrew, in addition to keeping the relationship secret from Becca, wants to cool things down as he concentrates on school to pull up his grades.
It turns out that Becca isn't ditching Claire. Instead, Becca is part of a secret society, one that is dedicated to secret good deeds around New York City. Because all the teenagers are connected and wealthy, this isn't your High School activities of visiting nursing homes. These are big, extravagant, always top-secret projects. Soon Claire finds herself involved in the secret society (despite her more modest background) and (of course!) solving a mystery. And remember... no one knows that she gets help from her dreams. She has to pretend as if she is just figuring things out. What's nice is that the dreams aren't roadmaps. They are rather clues themselves, things that have to be interpreted, to be viewed just the right way. So, instead of a dream giving it all away, both Claire and the reader have to figure out what exactly is meant; what to look for; whether there is a warning or a promise.
Also good: a side of New York City that isn't all glam. Claire bicycles places to meet her friends, has a mix of friends, enjoys spending time with Kiki. She likes Andrew yet doesn't understand the mixed signals he sends her. She tries to balance her different friendships. And she's funny! What else would you expect when the main character is named Claire Voyante? (It's explained in the first book.)
While reading Dream Girl helps to understand Claire's family and friends dynamics, it's not necessary to read and enjoy Dream Life.
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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy