Dreamers Often Lie by Jacqueline West
Jaye wakes up from a skiing accident with a fractured skull, a blinding headache, and her grip on reality sliding into delusion. Determined to get back to her starring role in the school production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Jaye lies to her sister, her mom, and her doctors. She’s fine, she says. She’s fine. If anyone knew the truth– that hallucinations of Shakespeare and his characters followed her from her hospital bed to the high school halls– it would all be over. She’s almost managing to pull off the act when Romeo shows up in her anatomy class. And it turns out that he’s 100 percent real. Suddenly Jaye has to choose between lying to everyone else and lying to herself.
— From the book jacket of Dreamers Often Lie
While her family loves to spend time outdoors, Jaye would rather be on stage performing– her true passion– despite her family’s disapproval. She is not comfortable with outdoor activities, and she’s downright terrified of skiing. And that’s even before she wakes up in the hospital with a brain injury after an accident– a injury that has left her with hallucinations… of Shakespeare.
But she won’t let a little thing like hearing and seeing the Bard and his characters all around her stop her from performing. She’s back at school a week later, hallucinations in tow. She tries her best to ignore them until she realizes that the Romeo she’s been dreaming about isn’t just a figment of her imagination. He’s actually real and his name is Rob. To make things even more complicated, an old friend comes back into her life, and now she’s torn between blossoming feelings for the new guy and lingering feelings for someone she’s known her whole life. When dreams of a bloody battle between the boys starts to cross over into real life, can Jaye keep her life from playing out like a Shakespearean tragedy?
When I saw this book at work, the cover immediately drew me in. So I opened it up to read the book jacket– a girl who hallucinates Shakespeare and all his characters after a skiing accident? Huh. I looked back at the cover and the title: Dreamers Often Lie. Then it hit me.
Romeo: I dreamt a dream tonight
Mercutio: And so did I.
Romeo: Well, what was yours?
Mercutio: That dreamers often lie.
Romeo: In bed asleep, while they do dream things true.
Mercutio: O, then, I see Queen Mab hath been with you.
— From Romeo and Juliet, Act I, Scene IV
Fun fact: I. LOVE. SHAKESPEARE.
It’s totally cliche, but Romeo and Juliet is my favorite. Always has been, always will be. And it’s all because of Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes. Hey, I was a young, impressionable 14 year old girl– what do you expect? It may not be the most scholarly first experience with Shakespeare, but whatever gets you in the door, right? It opened me up to a whole new world. I wanted to read more Shakespeare. I wanted to read about Shakespeare. I wanted to read things inspired by Shakespeare. I even took a whole class on Shakespeare. And there’s a little tingling feeling in the back of my brain that says, “Hey. What about performing Shakespeare?” (Crippling social anxiety has kept that from being anything more than a tingle though…) So a book about a girl who sees Shakespeare and all his characters, even if it’s just hallucination? Count me in.
Nearly every word spoken by the hallucination of Shakespeare or his characters is a line from one of his famous plays. I’d get a little thrill every time I came across one, recognizing it’s origin. There’s only one point towards the end of the book where Shakespeare breaks character, which was slightly disappointing. I understand who he represented and why he had to break character at that point (no spoilers!), but I wish there could have been a way to get that across with Shakespeare’s words.
The rest of the story moved along well enough, despite a lack of full character development. You get glimpses and hints of traits for certain characters, but I wanted more. (I always want more. This will be a recurring theme in most of my reviews… I just want full-bodied characters! Is that too much to ask?) I wanted to know about the relationship Jaye and Pierce had growing up, and why he felt obsessively protective of her. I wanted to delve more into the strained relationship between Jaye and her father and why no one else saw the side of him that Jaye saw. But whatever. There’s Shakespeare I can geek out on. It’s fine.
Overlooking the fact that I didn’t know everything out the characters that I wanted to know, I enjoyed the story, for the most part. It was mostly the Shakespeare that kept me going. However, the ending left me with questions I wish I had answers to. Everything goes speeding towards the end, towards a life changing climax, and then.. it’s over. Wait. It’s over?? What happens next? Is everyone okay? Where do they all go from here? Does Jaye ever stop hearing Shakespeare or does he continue to follow her? Would she be happy or sad to let him go? And most importantly, IS EVERYONE OKAY?? I need to know!
Content wise, there’s nothing too mature for readers below high school. However, I feel that those in high school and beyond would definitely have more experience with reading Shakespeare, so they would have a better understanding of the allusions within the story and the significance of the characters that appear throughout. But if you don’t really like Shakespeare, the story might fall a little flat.
Find out more about Jacqueline West