Book Review: And So We Dream
In this coming-of-age story set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War, a lonely boy finds acceptance when he spends the summer in a loving family with three beautiful daughters.
Twelve-year-old Joey Roland is sent away to family friends while his parents try to work things out. He’s eager to leave sadness and secrets behind in Chicago and head downstate to the small town of Greenberry, where the Vitale family awaits him. He thinks of their town as boyland—a world of bike riding, fishing, and going barefoot. Though initially shy of the teenaged daughters—Anne, Vita, and Beth—they welcome him into their lives of adventure, beauty, and dreams.
Joey especially bonds with the middle sister, Vita, and her all-or-nothing pursuit of an acting career. Joey’s “there must be more” merges with Vita’s “I must make it happen” resulting in a magical summer where the town of Greenberry becomes the crucible for two desperate dreamers. (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)
I think what I appreciated most about And So We Dream were the true-to-life characters and the portrayal of actual preteens, teenagers and young adults in 1970. The dialogue was superb, and not once did I feel as though the author went above and beyond who each character was. Joey felt like a real-live twelve year-old boy on the cusp of teenhood, recalling pivotal moments that changed the course of his world.
There was an ethereal feel to the writing style–the kind that allowed me to step back into my own childhood shoes and vicariously see what that looked like. Like the synopsis states, it really was magical. I could relate with Vita, because I think I might have been a lot like her when I was her age. But really, readers will identify with many of the characters because it takes us back to a time when the road ahead was long and murky, but full of chances and opportunities.
What I also liked were the many moments of clarity. Even though Joey spends time with his friends, the protective youthful bubble he resides in is constantly pressed on by outside forces, like the Vietnam War that had taken something away from someone he holds dear to him, or the fact that Vita isn’t who he thought she was and has a lot more self-doubt, which makes him wonder about his own future dreams. His parents have a lot more going on beneath the surface, and it makes it difficult to continue to see it all through a child’s eye. This really was a coming-of-age story in that respect.
And So We Dream reminded me of the days when I’d spend all day outside with my friends, often barefoot, wading through creeks or running through tall grass, certain that my summer experiences would never end. It brought on a heavy dose of nostalgia, mixed in with the fixed reality that it will end sometime. We all have to grow up at some point. But we don’t want to. I really enjoyed Mahkovec’s masterpiece; a definite five-star experience!
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