Sunday, September 3, 2017

[Review] The Dream Walker by Victoria Carless

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Publisher: Hachette Australia
Pages: 265
Source: Library/Bought
Genre: YA {Contemporary}

Violence | Sexual Content | Profanity


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My Rating
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The Dream Walker was dreamy, atmospheric and wholly engrossing. Carless' lilting prose wrapped me up and pulled me under; I became helplessly attached to the story and its characters, as if in a spell, or a dream. While the depiction of small-town Queensland life, writing style and all its quirks were pitch-perfect I felt emotionally disconnected from Lucy's struggles, disappointments and familial tragedies. Overall, The Dream Walker was a mesmerising and beautifully written story about the complicated nature of family, dreams and friendship.

The Dream Walker follows Lucy, a sixteen-year-old teenage girl who lives in Digger's Landing, a tiny fishing town in North Queensland, housing about 15 families in all. There are the dogs, named after country singers, all the tinnies out in the water hopeful for a good catch to stay in the money, and Alfie the local croc.

The heat swelters as every slow day plods along, and Lucy is sticking it out for the rest of the year so she can graduate and go to the city, get the hell out of here. She and her best friend Polly have been planning this dream escape ever since they can remember . . . but when the fish start disappearing - just like it did years ago when Lucy's mum's body was found in the waters - and Lucy starts entering other peoples' dreams, things might be a bit more complicated.

I loved the depiction of Digger's Landing. In fact, I may as well say that I love reading about small towns. This may or may not be due to the fact that I live in Sydney. Albeit, not in the heart, but the suburbs, but still, the idea of living in a small town where everyone knows each other, fascinates me to no end. Carless writes that lifestyle so well, and imbues her own experiences deep within the voice of Lucy so that she feels genuine, real. Lucy feels trapped in this place. It probably doesn't help that she and her father have this awkward, stilted relationship, and it seems that there are more secrets in the family than she knows.

Family is such a big theme in this book. I liked the exploration of this father-daughter relationship, where they spend most of their time together in the tinny, trying to chase down the fish as they travel along the waters. Her father is a man of few words. The opening lines shows a lot about how the town seems to think of him, which plays a bigger role as we get stuck deeper in the narrative. It was also great to see how Lucy responds to knowing more and more about her mother, and the special bond that they share. Lucy's other friends, Polly and Tom, also deal with problems with their families.

So there's Tom. Tom, Tom, Tom. I feel like I will need to reread this book one day, I'm sure that Carless had subtly hinted things, things you would only really understand fully when you know how it ended. Lucy has this love for Tom that is complicated and then not, and it's beautiful and confusing and it felt so true to life. As it stands, I still don't know how I feel about him, like I feel like I should feel more about him, you know?

The characters in Digger's Landing were great. I liked drunken Syd Lawler and the complicated relationship he bears with his family, namely his children who were punks, except for maybe Sadie, the youngest. I liked Mrs Parker, the kind elderly lady who runs the corner shop that is nowhere near a corner. Even Mr Sinclair, the bus driver, who seems to be more connected to Lucy's family than she ever thought possible. And then there are all the dogs, particularly Glen, who is like the chief assistant of the Hart family, always accompanying them in the tinny, hopeful for a big catch.

Lastly, the narrative built up towards a bittersweet ending. Everything has come full circle, but Lucy is not the same girl she was at the beginning, and neither is her dad. I feel like I should have learnt more, or that maybe I missed something, it just seemed like there were such big changes but I didn't see it coming?

The Dream Walker is about the dogs and the fish. Readers will enjoy meeting all of the lively and memorable characters of small-town Digger's Landing in Queensland, Australia. Carless breathes life into her narrative with lilting prose, as atmospheric and dreamy as the dreams in which Lucy, the main character, walks into. Timeless and brilliantly written, readers will relate to Lucy's story of growing up and finding truth in a world built up by secrets.


First lines:

"People around here say my father killed my mum. Not in a murdering sort of way, with a gun or anything. But in a leaving a dog on the chain too long kind of way. Not for the first time I wonder, does he know what they say about him? Does he care?
My father looks past me, hunkered down in the nose of our battered tinnie, as he eases the boat up a corridor of the creek. Glen is wedged with me in the prow, an excitable wet lump. He slurps at his privates and then my face. The water is his favourite place to be. He wouldn't have life any other way. These days, the rest of us can take it or leave it.
Favourite lines:
"He sees me looking, searches my face too and then instead of a school disco we hold our own dance in the bush, just the two of us. The bulldust is our smoke effects and the full moon is our mirror ball. (122)
"On the way home I walk by the creek, in the relative shelter of its scrubby bank. This waterway is our lifeblood, where we live and die and eke out miserable lives that mean nothing to those who live in town, but everything to those at Diggers. The creek holds our memories.It is where we go to shed tears and to laugh. To sneak out to smoke or to love. I think the creep keeps our secrets. It is awash with the confidences of the whole town. (146)

AUSTRALIA: A&R | Booktopia | Boomerang Books


I have received this review copy in return for an honest review.

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