Sunday, November 30, 2008

DREAMRIDER by Barry Jonsberg

Michael Terny is a fat kid who has been bullied most of his life at school and by his father who expects him to don boxing shorts and gloves and fend off this grown man's jabs. Michael's behavior at school is so bizarre that he has been multiple schools in his 7th grade school year. In addition to being bullied constantly Michael witnessed the death of his mother in a car accident involving a drunk driver. Michael believes he is a lucid dreamer. When a person dreams lucidly he consciously enters his dreams ant alters the direction and outcome. It is considered a sleep disorder. What Michael is doing far surpasses lucid dreaming. It is not astral projection either though it has a feel common to the book/film called the Jumper in which a bullied kids jumps out of his body to a safe place when things get to be too much. Michael has a whole imaginary world developed complete with girlfriend, step mom, heroic abilities. Even readers don't know for sure what is real and what is not which makes this story rather creepy. At Michael's latest school a couple of compassionate and wise teachers connect with Michael and his world begins to crumble completely. Readers don't know at the end of the story what the future holds for this very disturbed kid. It would be interesting to see kids write alternative endings to this story. Its a glimpse at just how toxic/traumatic parental and peer abuse can be. JDW 12/1/08

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