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
Despite the emotion and immediate camaraderie we form with Sabrina, the extent of her disorder is fascinating, and her artwork and imaginative background make it more so. What adds depth to her almost fragile bearing is her fear of the outside world, which we learn stems beyond the natural symptoms of her disorder and is rooted more firmly to recent events that relate to her mistreatment by so-called friends. Her sense of security is because of her confinement to the Wellness Center. She is almost entirely convinced that she is broken and wrong and strange, and our pain reaches out to hers, because she's nearly certain she belongs where she is. That is, until Alec, a fellow patient, arrives on the scene. It's almost comical how quickly Sabrina becomes taken with this newcomer. She doesn't doubt him or fear him, but is intrigued by him and believes that their first meeting has already happened—in one of her dreams. She feels safe with him and doesn't mind opening up to him, and it's weirdly sweet how fast they grow on each other. Still, their romance doesn't quite begin as swiftly as their feelings kindle, and their growing friendship is a pleasant slideshow that reveals their secrets, their playfulness, their happy and sad talks with each other.
While the pacing is slow-going, it doesn't very strongly effect our interest, as we are already too invested in Sabrina's future and how or if she will recover. It becomes crucial that she and her parents reforge their closeness, though the love never falters throughout the novel, that Sabrina is capable of surviving and enjoying life as anyone else, and that she continues to have Alec at her side, her sweetest reward for enduring torture and working at healing from whatever wounds, both mentally and emotionally, have been carried over. And when the ending magnifies so much that we have no choice but to look, we couldn't be more pleased and thrilled for those final handfuls of tender moments and sweet victory.
Originally posted at Paranormal Indulgence, 4/5/12