Artemis is a spunky and self-reliant 14-year-old who has never been one to let life get her down. But when her father bails — this time for good — the fragile façade of normalcy she created for herself and her younger brother crumbles away. With nowhere to go and no hope of making things right, Artemis grabs her fake ID, her best friend Jason, and heads west in a last ditch attempt to find herself and recover her lost innocence. Alternating between day and night, reality and dreams, Artemis Dreamt is a poetic and eloquent exploration of a girl’s struggle to thrive despite the odds stacked against her.
Artemis Cato lives an unfortunately awful life. The kind of awful where you skip school to do the laundry so your little brother can have clean clothes to wear to kindergarten the next day. The kind of awful where you clean up broken class every morning or fish broken cell phone parts out of the garbage disposal. The kind of awful that leads to cops asking questions and social workers at school and impulsive road trips up the coast of California and Oregon with your best friend, Jason. This is Artemis's story. This is Artemis coming to terms with the changes in her life, whether good or bad or unwanted or necessary. Change is hard, and you can run from it, but you can't escape it. It will follow you even into your dreams.
Dreams play a big part in Artemis's journey. The story is told in chapters alternating between day and night. Dreams and reality. Illusions and daydreams. It may be jarring for some readers, but once you connect with Artemis you'll be able to tell what's a dream and what's real. But who is to say that the dreams can't be real, too? They are, at times, just as real to Artemis as reality is to our eyes. She feels the phantom pains from her night dreams; they echo in her body once the sun is up. Real or not real? As the reader, you'll have to decide.
The story is told masterfully. Crystal Beran is an undiscovered genius storyteller. The narrative from Artemis's point of view is simply perfect. The transitions between night and day are flawless. The dream sequences are fantastically written. The pain and struggle that Artemis goes through again and again is so real, so intense. And yet she just keeps going, she keeps fighting on through a world that is so very different to her than it is to the people around her. Artemis's view is so unique; she sees the world like no one else does, and Beran has impeccably brought that view to life.
ARTEMIS DREAMT is a gem of a debut novel, and I can't wait to see what else Beran has to show the world of literature.