The Girl Who Could Not Dream

by Sarah Beth Durst
First line: “Sophie had only ever stolen one dream.”
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Review copy pilfered from the ARC shelves at my place of employment.
Content: There’s some mild scary moments, but the language and chapters are all short enough that a 3rd grader would enjoy this, even if it is a bit on the long side. It’s in the middle grade (grades 3-5) section of the bookstore.

Sophie’s parents run a bookstore, which she loves. But, underneath the bookstore is her parents’ secret business: distilling and selling dreams. The way it works is that they give out dream catchers which actually catch dreams and then distill them through their machine in the basement. They then bottle the dreams and sell them. But Sophie doesn’t have dreams. She’s not allowed because the one time she did she brought a monster out of her dreams into the real world. In fact, that monster (called, appropriately, Monster) is her best friend.

Then a creepy guy called Mr. Nightmare comes to down and turns Sophie’s life upside down. He kidnaps a couple of her “friends” (she doesn’t really have friends) and her parents go missing. So it’s up to her and Monster and a new friend, Ethan, to figure out where Mr. Nightmare is keeping everyone, what his Evil Plan is, and how to rescue them.

It’s a fun little adventure, one in which Sophie learns not only how to stand up on her own, but how to be a friend. And she figures out that her power of bringing dream things alive is not something to be feared (as her parents had taught her) but something to be respected and maybe even celebrated.

Delightful.

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The Cure for Dreaming

by Cat Winters
First sentence: “The Metropolitan Theater simmered with the heat of more than a thousand bodies packed together in red velvet chairs.”
Support your local independent bookstore: buy it there!
Review copy snagged off the ARC shelves my place of employment.
Content: There’s some pretty disturbing parenting, and enough horrible people to make anyone angry. It’s in the YA section (grades 6-8) of the bookstore, but it’d be appropriate (though they might have a difficult time understanding the politics of the situation) for younger readers.

It’s the turn of the 20th century, Olivia Mead is several things: a burgeoning scholar, the daughter of the local dentist, 17-years-old, and (most importantly) a supporter of the women’s suffrage movement.

This does not make Olivia’s father happy. So, when a hypnotist comes to town, he decides to hire the hypnotist to change Olivia, and make her bend to his will.

Fortunately, Henri the hypnotist is on Olivia’s side. Even though he does what her father wants, despicable as it is (he needs the money), he phrases the words so that Olivia will see the world as it Truly Is. Which means, her father is demonic, covered in blood. The rich socialites are bloodthirsty vampires. Women who don’t support suffrage are slowly turning invisible. And the women who do? They’re glowing from the inside out.

Sure, there’s more plot to this one than that, but who cares? This one has a strong feminist agenda and it’s not afraid of it. The father had me seething. The rich handsy boy whom the father liked made me want to smack him. Henri was nice enough, but I really loved Olivia and her struggle against the system (and the Man) and her desire to be Free. I was just cheering her on: you go girl!

I’m not entirely sure that the historical details were completely accurate, and I was kind of hoping for more of a supernatural element (like her father turned out to REALLY be a demon). But I’m not sure it matters. This is one of those books that’s just enough of a fun ride to let everything else slide.