January 12, 2010 Review: Dream Girl
With a name like Claire Voyante, it’s no surprise she has prophetic dreams. Such is the plot of Lauren Mechling’s novel Dream Girl. The dreams, while yielding helpful clues to real-life circumstances, are assembled bits and pieces, and Claire is left to sort through them for what’s meaningful. The hodgepodge nature mirrors Lauren Mechling’s novel with its mix of romance, mystery, and high-school story. Unlike the dreams, however, all the elements of Dream Girl are useful and noticable. It’s a delightful pastiche.
Claire Voyante has a multitude of problems. The black and white dreams were just the beginning, but now the cameo necklace from her grandmother has amplified them, and she’s become like a detective running all over New York City, trying to piece things together. Add to that she’s been forced to leave to her nurturing “gifted and talent school” for a nerd school, where the only person she knows is friend-turned-enemy Sheila Vird.
When she makes a new friend, Becca Shuttleworth, Claire’s dreams start pointing her towards something dangerous awaiting them, and she must intervene.
When interviewing authors, I always ask “If you could live inside any children’s title, which would it be and why?” I’d have to say that one of my potential answers to that question would be Dream Girl. Mechling has created a fun world and I, for one, want to live in it. From Claire’s apartment building full of professors, to her former socialite grandmother, Kiki, there’s so much going on in this book. Claire herself was just as interesting, with typical teen worries mixed with a burdening paranormal issue. I particularly liked how Claire’s dreams didn’t just outright tell her what path to take, but were puzzles she must put together. With this tactic, the reader slowly learned how they all fit at the same pace as Claire.
Dream Girl buzzes with descriptions – fashion and decor, brilliantly pictured down to the last detail. Usually such lists of “who was wearing what” bore me, and tread into Gossip Girl territory, but I savored each word. The characters were so enjoyable, and well-developed, from their little quirks. It’s here in the description of the characters were Mechling’s writing shines, such as in this passage on Sheila Vird’s pack of “BDLs” (Best Dressed List..self-monikored, of course):
“There was no question about it – these girls were awful. I could just see it: they have been nerds all their lives and had only recently schooled themselves in the art of being popular by watching bad Disney Channel movies.”
There’s a lot of other passages I could highlight, but I urge you to read the book. And tell me you don’t covet Claire’s life just a little bit ..whether it’s her haute fashion collection or her eccentric company of friends and family.
In closing..throughout the novel, Claire turns to 60’s girl groups’ music when upset. These mentions plus the overwhelming Frenchness of the book (Claire’s father a French professor, her mother trying desperately to pass as French) led me to seek out some music related to the novel. On Twitter, Lauren Mechling commented that “Peanut Duck” by Marsha Gee is Claire’s theme song.
I was curious to hear some French music, and fell in love with April March after searching for a bit, so I’ll link to her Last.fm page.
A sequel, Dream Life, was released today. I’ll have a review for that this week as well.
Review copy provided to me by the publisher.