Dream within a Dream

Ages: 8 - 12Publisher: Simon & Schuster Author: Patricia MacLachlan


The children of restless, world-traveling parents, 11-year-old Louisiana (aka Louisa) and 8-year-old brother Theo spend their summers on Deer Island with their paternal grandparents, Boots and Jake, while their parents are off studying birds. As the story begins, the two children are struggling to understand who they are and how they fit into the world around them, while their grandfather, Jake, is slowly losing his sight as the result of a degenerative eye condition. At the center of MacLachlan’s story is a budding romance between Louisa and George, a slightly older boy who lives nearby on the island. The child of a Tanzanian father and an American mother, George has formed a close friendship with Louisa’s grandfather, Jake, and has been chosen to inherit Jake’s beloved vintage Midnight Black Cord automobile once the older man is no longer able to drive. As their relationship slowly develops, Louisa and George exchange confidences in Swahili (George’s father’s childhood language), and Louisa learns for the first time to appreciate her own beauty and intelligence.

The real heart of the story (the dream within a dream), however, is the tender relationship between Jake and Boots, and MacLachlan’s book is filled with memorable images of their quiet, love-filled life together. Returning from her first date with George, Louisa glimpses her grandparents dancing alone together in the darkness and silence of the evening. With a violent storm raging outside the house, Louisa watches in wonder as the elderly couple gently calm the terrified sheep that they have herded into the kitchen for safety. Dream within a Dream is a rich, insightful meditation on the mysterious interconnectedness of all life and the potential for friendship and love between people of different generations, ethnicities, and aspirations.

David Shirley ©2019 Parents’ Choice

David Shirley’s recent nonfiction titles include A History of Brooklyn Bridge Park and Fix It Leroy! His YA biographies, Every Day I Sing the Blues: The Story of B. B. King and Satchel Paige: Baseball Legend were honored as the New York Public Library’s Best Books for Teens.

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