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Dream Sweet

By

Not for me 😔

A promising fantasy take on dreams-versus-reality romance gets bogged down by uneven prose and character development.

Synopsis

Dream Sweet starts with an unforgettable experience of Trevor Dain, a high school senior, when he falls in love with the girl of his dreams, Harmony Ray. However, he is hit by reality to find out she is literally in his dreams.

Trevor reacts in the only way he can, ignorance. Harmony has a touch, a pulse, a vivid personality and Trevor refuses to believe she isn’t real. Even her voice is clear when she says yes to him asking her to prom, and he won’t let anything affect his ability to take her, not even his own reality.

To him, reality has become a nightmare, a tragic reason to wake up. At the big event of prom, he can’t stand being taken away from Harmony anymore. He decides there is only one way to wake up from a nightmare, and he would give up his life to be with her.

To Trevor it may be heaven, but to his friends and family, it's something completely different.

Trevor meets his dream girl Harmony at his friend Fay’s party, and thinks he has found love at last. There’s one problem: Harmony is a literal dream, not present in his real life in Texas where he and his friends are about to graduate. Trevor feels his real life is a nightmare without love and asks Harmony to prom. As Trevor becomes more attached to Harmony, and less attached to his waking life, he begins to wonder if he can live in the dream forever, much to the fear of his real-life friends and family. 

 

Using a literal dream girl to explore whether a dream triumphs over reality is intriguing, and a great premise for a YA romance. Trevor’s longing for love and frustrations with the high school he’s desperate to leave fit well in a YA novel, and the mix of specific hangouts like the Hill and the Waterway and cultural references create a believable Texas setting. Trevor’s free-spirited best friend Fay is another highlight, showing her love for Trevor saying “I can’t lose another brother again” after Trevor hints that his dreams feel better than the real world (88). With a setup like this, the book has a lot to say, but the writing can get in its own way.


Unfortunately, the awkward prose, dialogue, and a tendency to tell rather than show Trevor’s feelings about Harmony undercut many of this book’s worthy goals. When describing Harmony Trevor says: “I pay more attention to that of her ambition and childlike cuteness. She is very smart and knows her way in the world with the possibility to achieve the person she wants to be’” (133). We understand Trevor loves Harmony from this description, but we don’t see Harmony’s smarts and ambition in action because we don’t see Harmony’s character development during the relationship. While this makes sense at first, because she is a dream, it also makes it difficult to understand why Trevor would be so tempted to choose the dream world and a girl the reader doesn’t get to know over his better-developed real-world relationships.


Some YA readers will appreciate Trevor’s journey with Harmony, while struggling to choose between dreams and the real-world. The dream world and Texas setting make an established romantic plot feel new. However, I wanted more from this book. I wanted see the characters’ sweetness rather than be told about it and to know more about Harmony, so I could appreciate her the way Trevor does.

Reviewed by

I’m building my experience reviewing books. I’m interested in disability, environmental, and fantasy themes. I bring a unique perspective as I have mild cerebral palsy and could address how disability representation impacts disabled readers. I want to read diverse authors and authors from Colorado.

Synopsis

Dream Sweet starts with an unforgettable experience of Trevor Dain, a high school senior, when he falls in love with the girl of his dreams, Harmony Ray. However, he is hit by reality to find out she is literally in his dreams.

Trevor reacts in the only way he can, ignorance. Harmony has a touch, a pulse, a vivid personality and Trevor refuses to believe she isn’t real. Even her voice is clear when she says yes to him asking her to prom, and he won’t let anything affect his ability to take her, not even his own reality.

To him, reality has become a nightmare, a tragic reason to wake up. At the big event of prom, he can’t stand being taken away from Harmony anymore. He decides there is only one way to wake up from a nightmare, and he would give up his life to be with her.

To Trevor it may be heaven, but to his friends and family, it's something completely different.

Harmony

The card portrayed a guy on a horse. I barely held onto it for a second before handing it back to my best friend, Fay Rumen.

“Death…”

My cheek flexed in disbelief. This was stupid.

“It doesn’t mean anything, don’t worry,” she said as she cuts the deck and holds it towards me, making me draw another card. “It’s only symbolic.”

I wasn’t worried. I didn’t believe in psychic readings anyway, and I didn’t need cards to tell me the future. I’d seen it for myself.

I flipped the next card over. An angel.

“Oh, what was that one again?” she asked herself. “I know it’s something about an absence of harmony.”

A silence stretched out between us like the fading chime of a clock somewhere far away.

“Harmony,” I whispered.

It was like we’d known each other our whole lives, like we’d stayed up every night talking on the phone, sharing every story; the things we love, the things we want. She was everything to me, everything I had ever hoped for. The dream I thought would never come true. The perfect girl.

Ordinarily, I would never have had the guts to talk to a girl like Harmony. I always wanted so badly to just say something, even a simple hi, and not care if it sounded awkward. But my nerves held me back like chains, imprisoning every word in my throat. As much as I wanted to break my silence, the chains would keep me trapped and time would slip away. Eventually, I would lose my chance. Or worse, I would blurt out something over-helpful and she would realize I’m that guy, the one who minds girls’ purses while they party with people they want to date.

Some will say I suck up to get girls’ attention, any kind of attention. But the truth is more complicated. Sure, there’s the physical stuff. As I’ve grown older, I see girls more vividly. Every feature burns into my mind. Long, silky blonde hair that shimmers like sunlight slipping through the clouds on a breezy day. Smooth skin glistening like a moonlit night. Just when I think I’ve seen all the beauty that could possibly exist, another face kills me. A smile will start a fantasy where one graceful touch could change my entire world. You know how that goes.

But there’s more.

For me, it’s true what they say about eyes being windows to the soul. To see someone’s joy, or their pain and disillusionment, feels like sharing past experiences they can’t hide from. It’s as if everything they’ve witnessed is locked deep in their eyes, where most people never look.

I suppose that’s what made Harmony different. She looked.

She truly saw me.

No one else had ever bothered.

About the author

Taylor Daniel is a born n' raised Texan with a passion for written word. He received his Bachelor's degree from Sam Houston State University, and currently teaches high school English. Now he is working on following his dream of being an author after publishing his debut novel, Dream Sweet. view profile

Published on May 14, 2020

70000 words

Genre: Romance

Reviewed by

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