cover art
Bibliographic Information
Title: Dreamland
Author: Sarah Dessen
Paperback: 0-670-89122-3
Audiobook: 978-0-14-240175-0


Publisher: Penguin Group
Copyright: 2000

Book Details

Formats: Paperback, audiobook

Page Count: 250

Plot Summary
Caitlin O’Koren has just realized that on her sixteenth birthday, her older sister, Cass, has run away. Everyone forgets about Caitlin’s birthday and searches for Cass, but Cass soon makes a call saying she has moved in with her boyfriend, Adam. Her father is furious, saying he had better expectations of her.

Caitlin’s friend, Rina, asks her to join the cheerleading squad. Caitlin makes the squad. Caitlin’s mother is very excited. Caitlin says that it’s probably best to take her mind off Cass’ departure. Caitlin discovers she hates cheerleading, but she remains on the squad because of her mother, who sees Caitlin as Cass’ replacement.

Caitlin meets a boy named Rogerson, who is a drug dealer. Caitlin and Rogerson’s relationship becomes more physical. Rogerson introduces Caitlin to drugs and a woman in her mid-twenties named Corinna. They become friends and begin to smoke pot. Caitlin begins to skip school, which causes her to and fail every class. Rogerson helps her with this, claiming that “he knows everything.”

Caitlin begins to be abused by Rogerson when she does not tell Rogerson where she is, or when she is seen talking to other boys. On Christmas Eve, Catilin finally agrees to sleep with Rogerson. She says later in the book that whenever they have sex it is the only time she feels safe. Later, Rogerson becomes angry with her and begins to abuse her. He continues until Caitlin’s mother shoves Rogerson away from her and calls the police. Rogerson is arrested.

Caitlin enters the Evergreen Rest Care Facility for treatment after Rogerson is arrested. She starts counseling and begins a slow improvement. While there, she gets a letter from her sister, Cass, saying that she did not want to go to Yale. She was having a tough time and wasn’t happy with her parents’ plans for college, which explains her sudden departure. Finally, Caitlin is released, but before she goes, she takes a picture of the new her, and compares it to an old picture she once ripped but has put back together.

Critical Evaluation
Written in the first person, Dreamland takes us inside the mind, and soul, of a teenage girl. Caitlan keeps a ‘dream journal’ through which we see her inner thoughts and feelings. We see how sibling tensions look from the inside, and how parental pressures, even well-intentioned ones, sometimes force children to make poor choices.

Reader’s Annotation

Love can be dangerous and addictive, especially when you use it to fill a void in your life.

Information about the Author
Sarah Dessen has published ten YA novels, many of them best-sellers. She is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and is the recipient of numerous awards and honors. Sarah lives in Chapel Hill with her husband, Jay, and their daughter, Sasha Clementine.


Fiction, coming-of-age

Booktalking ideas

Teen sex, abusive relationships

Reading Level/Interest Age
Interest Level: Grades 6 – 11
Reading Level: sixth grade and above

Challenge Issues

Teen sex
Abusive boyfriends


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