Dream Mire by Sharman Badgett-Young
Star Rating: 4/5
Genre: Science Mysteries & Thrillers, Physcological
Buy the book: Amazon
Synopsis (from Amazon): Tiegen, a determined grad student, cannot tell her dreams from waking reality. Her journal system helps her identify what actually happened, but occasionally a dream slips through. She likes Geoff, from the UK, whom she's just met, but is afraid to detail her disability to him, because her ex labeled her "mental," just before he dumped her. Now she overhears two men planning a hate crime. She and Geoff put themselves at risk, acting as amateur detectives, to gather evidence. But how can she get Officer Jessica St. Marie to take the threat seriously when even Tiegen isn't sure what's true?
First off, I really love this dedication. I'm not the right person to speak to how well mental illness is represented in this book, however. I don't bear that particular struggle, so I'm not going to address that piece of it in this review. If you're curious, I recommend you read the book. If you're not, I still recommend that you read the book because there's a lot to love about it.*
*If you've read this book and also struggle with mental illness, I'd love to hear what you think of how it was handled. Drop me a comment below.
Half of the conflict in this book comes from the fact that the main character, Tiegen has trouble separating reality from her dreams. As a narrator, she was inadvertently unreliable, which made for very interesting reading. I never knew what was going to turn out to be a figment of her imagination. And Tiegen tries really hard to cope with her disability, which really pulled at my heart. When I first read the premise, I thought relating to her and her struggle might be difficult, but it really wasn't. Badgett-Young does a great job making Tiegen's disability relatable via the consequences of her mix-ups. We've all been in situations where we made a mistake, got details mixed up, whatever, and that ended up in some kind of misfortune. And that feeling sucks! You could feel Tiegen's fear and pain and embarrassment as these instances unfold. I just wanted to give her a hug and a cup of tea.
There's also a really specific but really important thing Badgett-Young does in the book: she refers to the perpetrators of the hate crimes as terrorists. The dictionary defines the word terrorist as...
"A person who uses unlawful violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims."
People tend to think that only non-whites are terrorists. It doesn't matter what team you're playing for. The act is the crime, no matter who your intended target is. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate that Badgett-Young brought attention to this in her book. I should mention she didn't belabor the point either. She simply used the correct word for the situation and went on with the story.
As far as things I didn't like in the book, I did find the dialogue, character relationships, and police procedural stuff unconvincing and/or clunky. I can forgive the last one of those, though. From what I understand, everyone fudges that sort of thing because it's so dang boring. Regarding the other two, I didn't really buy into Tiegen's blossoming relationship with Geoff. The pacing and action were great, but I often find where one excels, the other suffers. I know pacing is a weak point of my books, but I've been told my dialogue and world building is great. Striking a balance between these things seems to be a struggle for lots of writers.
All in all, I found the book engaging, and important messages were handled with a deft hand.
Thanks for reading!