The Dream Walker by Victoria Carless

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Hachette Australia, 2017. ISBN 9780734417473
(Age: 15+) Recommended. Themes: Grief; Family; Violence; Small town mentality; Alcoholism; Bullying; Suicide. Lucy is a dream walker . . . just like her mother. But will it lead her to the same sad end? Dream walking enables Lucy to enter the dreams of others, and in doing so she gets a glimpse of the realities and experiences of the people who knew her mother at the time of her death. As is the way of dreams, this is a floating, ethereal reality, but it reveals some confusing uncertainties about Lucy's life and community. The setting of this book is heroic - a very small and struggling fishing community in North Queensland. The residents battle to survive; sometimes they battle each other and life has not dealt kindly with many of them. Lucy has to overcome friendship issues, bullying, her own grief, school expectations, an uncertain romantic interest and helping her father make a meagre living and cope with his own loss and grief. Despite her almost voiceless temperament, she does this with incredible resilience.
The almost ethereal and mystical quality of dreams is also reflected in Carless' writing style. The narrative floats, twists and turns. Nothing is straightforward. In the same way that a tidal creek ebbs and flows, and twists through its challenging environment, this book leads the reader in a journey of discovery with an over-riding sense of foreboding as the lingering pervasive atmosphere. It is an interesting experience, but not one characterised by delight. Perhaps the hopelessness of the struggling community is too raw an experience to make this a joyful read. It is probably though worthy to recommend as a book that a senior English student could analyse for style and character and setting qualities rather than as a novel to recommend for those that like to escape into a heart-warming story.
Recommended for readers aged 15+.
Carolyn Hull