Thursday, March 15, 2012

Review: Life Is But a Dream by Brian James

Life Is But a Dream
Brian James
Release date: March 27th, 2012
by Feiwel & Friends

Goodreads / Purchase
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.
*A copy was provided by Raincoast Books for review purposes*

Did you know that Schizophrenia typically appears between the ages of 16 and 25? How old are you? Scary, huh? I've always been fascinated, if a bit terrified, by this illness. I got a chance to learn a lot about it in one of my psychology classes at University and it's not a disorder that many really understand. Life Is But a Dream takes us in the mind of Sabrina - in a mental facility because of this incurable illness.

There is so much sadness, underneath it all. We go into Sabrina's mind and see her delusions, her perceptions,
and even when she thinks she's completely happy, you can feel her helplessness; it's brilliantly written. You get a grip on how this illness takes away your sense of the world. However, I could never completely connect with Sabrina. I felt like she held the reader at arm's length in a way that made it hard to me to really be able to sympathize for her. No doubt is it distressing, but I felt this in a more general sense of the illness, than towards Sabrina herself.

Alec - in the mental facility as well - quickly falls for Sabrina, and she him. The romantic element is a sweet way to give a little light to the otherwise gloominess of the story. I was happy that she found someone to be herself with, although I didn't particularly like how he was feeding her conspiracies that negatively affected her mental state. Especially that he is otherwise healthy, thus should have realized this wasn't helping her.

The book consists of Sabrina trying to understand, to accept, who she is. It's a fairly short novel of a little over 200 pages, even so I did find the story was moving too slowly for my taste. I felt myself longing for something deeper to unravel. Nonetheless, there is a definite beauty in the slow, painful way that it's told. Flashbacks throughout the novel also helps us understand how her illness started, unfolding to the events that led her to the facility.

Life Is But a Dream opens our eyes to a mental disability that is often misunderstood. Brian's portrayal of schizophrenia is impressive; he makes us see the despair, as well as the beauty in such a sensitive subject. For those who enjoy books dealing with mental disorders, this is one that will make you see the world in a completely new way.

 "Is the world crazy--or is she?" - quote on cover

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