Friday, August 24, 2012

My Review of The Dawn of a Dream

Here's a description of the book from the author's website:

"Twenty-two-year-old Luellen O'Connell is stunned and confused when her husband of just one month tells her he is leaving her. Deeply wounded by this betrayal, Luellen decides to follow the dream she had set aside of obtaining a teaching degree.

More than anything, she wants to teach children in communities like hers and help them recognize that education opens a path to future possibilities.  But her wayward husband left something behind when he abandoned her. Can Luellen overcome the odds and achieve her dream? Can she hide her secret, or will it destroy her dreams forever?

A moving story of tenacity and perseverance in the face of opposition, The Dawn of a Dream will inspire readers to discover and follow their own dreams."

My Rating

Fall/Spring

My Review

With an abrupt first chapter, The Dawn of a Dream didn't charm me the first time I tried to jump in. But once I came back to it and really settled in for the ride, I found this book to be a gentle, well-written story that contains elements that alternately won me over and frustrated me.

Intrigued yet?

Honestly, I think The Dawn of a Dream is a great book. Luellen is a heroine most people who pick up this book will understand and admire. She's a determined young woman who doesn't let anything get her down. She is humble enough to seek out help (well, sometimes) and yet proud enough to keep on fighting for her dream and to hold onto her own responsibilities.

But I think it's her character that frustrated me the most. It's quite possible that the reason for that is the similarities between my personality and hers... Academics have always been very important to me, so I understand Luellen's attitude and some of her choices, and I can't be sure I wouldn't make some of the same mistakes she does if I were in her place and time. However, there is just something about how she acts in certain parts of the book - mainly her single-mindedness - that just irks me. She shows some growth in her thinking, but the perspective we're given of her (the scenes included, as well as the scenes that are not included) didn't completely work for me.

The way the book is written, though, is engaging - plenty of drama and secrets that made me want to know what would happen next and how everything would turn out. The romance isn't overly prominent, and yet there was enough to keep me satisfied - especially with such a sweet hero who is unassuming and steps into the picture softly, yet turns out to be a strong character with his own important issues to face.

If I liken the reading of this book to a train ride (and I love the train on the front and back covers, by the way!), I would say that the scenery I can see from the windows is wonderful, and the thrill of a good old-fashioned ride is great fun, but I'm not exactly sure where my destination is.

Translation of my analogy: I enjoyed the reading experience, and the story is well-executed in terms of plot and hooks. But while I admire the heroine's tenacity, I'm not sure how I feel about the message of the book - or if I even grasped it the way the author intended it. Is the heroine really passionate about the people she can help (as well as those she loves) - or is she just passionate about reaching the dream for her own benefit/security/pride? I'm just conflicted about the way the dream-theme is presented.

*I purchased my copy of this book at a one-day Oregon Christian Writers conference in early 2012. I agreed to write a review sharing my honest opinion, but I was not required to do so.*

4 comments:

Rissi said...

I have this series but yeah... I've never read it because I have so many other novels that I read instead. Hopefully sometime I will get through the set. :-)

Amber S. said...

Rissi,

I understand - I've got so many books in my room that I haven't read yet!

I haven't read the first two books in this series, but this one was good, and the author is super sweet! (I met her at a conference!) I do think it's interesting, though, that your post today about feminism vs. femininity kind of fits with my qualms with the heroine of this book... (Great post, by the way!) The heroine of this book wants it all, and in attempting to hold onto everything I think she does more harm to herself and those around her. I understand her frustrations in some ways, but I just wish we were shown more of her heart. We see glimpses, but I personally felt that her career-drive drowned out most mentions of her caring ways...

~Amber

Michelle said...

I have this series on my shelf. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Great review, Amber. : )

Hope you have a great week!

Amber S. said...

Michelle,

You're welcome - thanks for reading my thoughts! :) Hope you enjoy the series if/when you get to it!

And I hope you have a great week, as well! :)

~Amber