Monday, August 22, 2011

What if Someone Stepped into Your Dreams?

Wake (Wake Series, Book 1)
Can you imagine if someone could literally step into your dreams? What would you be embarrassed by? Horrified by? Now imagine every time someone fell asleep next to you and started to dream, you were thrown violently into their dream while your body convulsed on the floor like you were having a seizure. Could happen in study hall, at work, even while you were driving. Sound creepy? Then pick up Wake by Lisa McMann and learn how Janie handles her unwanted gift.

Janie realized at a young age she had to avoid people who were sleeping. She manages to do so pretty well at home since her mother is usually passed out drunk. Janie is generally avoided at school since her clothes are too small or grungy or not the current fad, but when Carrie moves in next door, she doesn't let prejudice and gossip dictate who she will be friends with. Unfortunately, that means she is also friends with Melinda, the Queen Bee who hates Janie with a passion. When Carrie invites them both over for a sleepover, Janie's journey into Carrie and Melinda's dreams are too much information. She realizes sleepovers are just not a good idea.

Janie works hard, saving money for college, since their mother drinks any money that didn't go to pay the rent. When Cabel, another kid who was generally ignored through high school, shows up at school with a new haircut, a new wardrobe, and has all the other girls drooling, Janie is shocked when he pays attention to her. Their budding relationship is rocky at best, especially since they both seem to be hiding something. When Janie admits her ability, she expects Cabel to share his secrets too, but instead he sends her mixed messages. When he starts hanging out and partying with the popular crowd and rumors start floating that he is a drug dealer, Janie refuses to speak to him. But what she doesn't realize is there is much more to Cabel's life than he is allowed to tell her. So much, it makes her dream walking seem pretty tame!

Wake was a fun little book, only topping out at 200 pages. It is broken up really well with chapters broken up in chunks of time according to what Janie is doing at the time. This makes it a good book for oral reading in one-on-one tutoring or to be read in short chunks. Because it is so broken up, you have frequent places to stop without breaking up the action. The story is very tame and appropriate for younger students. The writing level is fairly low, but it deals with serious topics such as alcoholism and drugs, so it would also be appropriate for an older student with low reading skills.

The story itself is interesting, but not terribly complicated. I will admit I didn't see the truth behind Cabel's life coming, but once it was explained, I could see how McMann was setting it up (I was just dense- a more savvy reader might figure it out earlier). That makes this a bad book for any of those kids who can analyze and dissect a movie plot 10 minutes into it (I am not one of those people- Usual Suspects and Sixth Sense were made for people like me). Those kinds of kids might get bored by this story. Even so, it is a good middle reader-ish story and I enjoyed it. I also plan to pick up the other two books in the trilogy because it ended with tons of potential for Janie and Cabel's future! So stay tuned for those reviews to come!

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