I have to be honest and say that I’m not quite sure how to go about writing this review. Under normal circumstances I have an “absolute” feeling when finishing a book. I know what I’m going to say about it and I know how I’m going to rate it. Neither can be said when it comes to “Life is But a Dream.”
On one hand it was a spectacularly written example of schizophrenia and how it not only effects the person who has it, but the people surrounding it. In the other, you have a novel that is so full of flowery, elaborate and lengthy descriptions (where the lead character Sabrina is concerned) that I found myself wanting to skim to get to the overall plot of the book.
What I DO know…it was heartbreaking and eye opening.
“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 have been a fist-hand witness to several psychological diseases in my life. I’ve read about several more, but schizophrenia has never been on the top of that list. “Life Is But A Dream” by Brian James single-handedly opened my eyes to this life altering disease, and he did so in a genuinely beautiful way, not only explaining the complexities of its origin but more importantly…illustrating the horrors that can occur when it’s not treated properly.
First let’s talk about Sabrina (the lead in Life is But a Dream.)
I adored Sabrina.
Though she had her fair share of issues, the most debilitating of those being mental illness, she felt very real, AND without even trying made me see the beauty that life has to offer. Schizophrenia is a breading ground for hallucinations and is characterized as: being unable to tell the difference between real and unreal experiences. In Sabrina’s case, her delusions are very child-like, and focused around her powerlessness to understand why we (as adults) loose our sense of wonder, our need to be carefree and embrace life’s mysteries with enthusiasm vs pessimism. She sees the world full of color, while the rest of the world is stuck in the black and white, and because of her brilliantly sculpted arguments (thanks Mr. James) by the end of the book I felt myself agreeing with her.
Alec is NOT sick, just trapped in a world of his own self-destructive making. And though he fuels Sabrina’s disease by encouraging her to live in her head (and stop taking her medication) his confidence in her, and the fact that he clearly cares for her (which is confirmed in the final moments of this novel) makes up for his misguided actions. Making him (ultimately) one of the most sad but honorably endearing characters I’ve had the pleasure of reading.
So where does the confusion come in on my part? The language used. I can appreciate flowery, and in some cases I’m warmed by it. But when Sabrina is at her very worst, when she is off her meds and struggling to understand her surroundings, the rants get slightly out of hand and had me feeling much more anxious for answers than entranced by the journey.
If you like sometimes dark, very serious literature with a bit of floral fluff and a good message…this is the book for you. If you are turned off by poetic stylings and pages of imagery (regardless of how wonderfully crafted it is) you should probably take a pass.
Happy reading my fellow Kindle-ites and remember: Maturity is a high price to pay for growing up.
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