Dream Smashers by Angela Carlie -- Review

Friday, July 1, 2011

Title: Dream Smashers
Author: Angela Carlie
Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 242 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace (March 30, 2011)


Available at Amazon.

Sixteen-year-old Autumn is a human heartache. Everywhere she turns people are stomping on her hopes and dreams. Her mom’s a tweaker. She’s lived with her chain-smoking grandmother for as long as she can remember. Even her best friend has issues. Autumn seems to be the only responsible person she knows and she’s sick of putting up with it all.

When she meets Evan, a hot guy without a worry in the world, she can only wonder if he’s for real or just another Dream Smasher.

A girl who no longer wants to care and a boy who cares enough for the both of them. Dream Smashers is a love story, but most of all, it’s about letting go.

I'll admit, I haven't read many Indie books.  The ones I have read were written by friends, like fellow reviewer, Stephanie Jenkins.  So, when Annie asked if I'd like to review Dream Smashers, I figured it would be a great way to jump into the Indie waters so-to-speak. 

The jacket copy sounded right up my alley, and I dove right in.  The first thing I noticed was how good of a writer Angela Carlie is.  At times her similes and metaphors are reaching and overwrought, but her descriptions create a world we can walk through with the main character, Autumn, who is well fleshed out and three dimensional.  Autumn's best friend, Rainy, is her total opposite and a riot to read.  Most of the secondary characters were all written well, and I hated Autumn's meth addicted mother, Jacinda, like I think I was supposed to, but that's tricky because... 

Dream Smashers is written in multiple points of view.  While the bulk of the book is written from Autumn's first person perspective, the reader does get to spend some third-person time inside Jacinda's head and Evan, the eventual love interest, as well.  Jacinda's chapters made me feel like I'm supposed to understand what she was going through and feel sorry for her.  But, I didn't want to feel sorry for her, because this was Autumn's story, not Jacinda's.  I'm not 100% convinced that the manuscript needed the point of view shifts, and that's where I'm conflicted.

Other than the point of view shifts, my conflict also came in the form of Evan, who is an absolute knight in shining armor.  Because he had no flaws, he was a flat character.  But, he was also something we never (or very rarely) see in mainstream young adult fiction: a "Jesus Freak" (as he's referred to in the book). 

At first, this was a little bit off-putting, even thought I'm a Christian myself.  But, I was put at ease because Autumn felt the same way I did.  It felt a little awkward to Autumn, being around a guy that was as faithful as Evan.  So, her reaction was real for her as someone who isn't a huge believer, which she wasn't at first. 

I caught myself thinking at night about this aspect of Dream Smashers that is so different, and I found myself liking that Evan was a "Jesus Freak" (again, that term is used in the book), because that's who Evan is, and he owns it.  It turns out that Evan is just what Autumn needs and shows her how to have faith and believe, which had always been something that was missing from her messed up childhood with a drug-addicted mom.

The book ends on a high note with Autumn growing into her own person and realizing she owns her dreams for the future, and they'll only be smashed if she lets them.

Overall, a distinct voice and different spin on what could've become a typical YA issue book, making Dream Smashers stand out from other gritty contemporary novels. 


Annie McElfresh said...

AWESOME Review Jamie! :)

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