Review: Life Is But a Dream

Life Is But a Dream by Brian James
Release Date ~ March 27, 2012
MacMillan ~ Feiwel & Friends
ISBN13: 9780312610043
ARC Received from: Raincoast Books for review

Goodreads Synopsis:
Alec and Sabrina are crazy in love. Problem is: Sabrina’s really crazy.
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.

I was initially unsure of what to expect from Life Is But a Dream, because mental health can be dealt with in so many different ways when people talk about it, and this topic really is the driving force of the book.

But Brian James successfully delivers an open-minded and refreshing glance into the mind of Sabrina, one that is utterly captivating and leaves you dreading the ending, wondering how it could possibly work out but hoping for the best.

  1. Extraordinary point of view:
    Sabrina has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, which makes her a rather unique narrator. As her mental health fluctuates, so does the writing and the story itself. There's nothing stable about it, and it works rather well without anything becoming convoluted. This is truly outstanding, and Brian presents a fantastic look into her mind which is surely a credit to his talent as a writer.
  2. A psychological and open-minded read:
    Mental health is something that still isn't talked about much, so I applaud Brian for bringing this up and making it central to his story. Now, I have to admit that I'm a person who has done quite a bit of thinking and has strong opinions regarding it, but this book even made me question some of my well-rooted beliefs. It isn't as simple of a situation as we would like to think, and it really does bring up the question of what "normal" and "crazy" are, even what "healthy" means. This was easily my favourite aspect of the book.
    It isn't a tortured, cliffhanger ending. But as you're reading, you can just feel everything escalating and you know it's going to culminate into one big explosion but what can you do to stop it? And my jaw literally dropped at the last couple chapters. I was so taken back by the end, and really pleasantly surprised by it because my predictions had been wayyyy off. It's really satisfying however, and much better than I had thought it would end up being.
Now, as much as I loved the ending it seemed somewhat contrary to where the book had been leading up to and kind of out of the blue. Was I happy with it? Yes, absolutely. Was it unexpected? Yes, because I wasn't sure it added up to everything else that had happened.

I was speechless when I finished reading this beautiful story. Never before have I read a book that both made me question my opinions and solidified them at the same time, and made me into a wrecked ball of tumultuous emotions. But thank goodness for this book, which will leave you with a greater sense of understanding and appreciation for the complications that come with mental health.

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Melissa said...

Really looking forward to reading. I find psychology very interesting so this is right up my alley. Great review.

Andrea @ Cozy Up said...

I'm really interested in this one now, I like psychological books. I really like your line that this book "will leave you with a greater sense of understanding and appreciation for the complications that come with mental health". It really peaks my interest. Great review!

Carina said...

I've never really planned to read this one, but the positive reviews for LIFE IS BUT A DREAM that I've been reading lately (like yours) are slowly making me think otherwise. Maybe I'll need to pick it up nonetheless. Thanks for sharing! :)

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