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Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

*Dream Life* by Cathleen Davitt Bell- young adult book review  
Dream Life
by Cathleen Davitt Bell
Grades 7-9 336 pages Delacorte January 2010 Hardcover    

It isn’t dignified for a woman of my age to admit this: I couldn’t put down Lauren Mechling’s Dream Life.

The teenage protagonist is Claire Voyante, and the name alone delights me. It surely says something about her destiny, for Claire Voyante has clairvoyant dreams. Just as in real life, though, nothing is easy – not even psychic abilities. Her dreams only drop hints about what is going to happen; it’s still up to Claire to do the leg work and to suffer the consequences of misinterpretation.

Claire made her debut in Dream Girl, and her success in that book brought her a new best friend (Becca) and a new boyfriend (Becca’s brother, Andy). Claire’s psychic dreams are a secret she keeps from everyone except her eccentric grandmother, a society matron and former showgirl. That’s not the only secret she’s keeping from Becca, though; Clair’s relationship with Andy is also hush-hush.

Sure, Claire feels bad about hiding these important parts of her life from her best friend, but it turns out that Becca keeps a few things close to her chest, too. Just when Claire decides that oh-so-wealthy Becca is tired of their friendship, one of those cryptic dreams becomes clear. Becca invites Claire to join the Blue Moons, an exclusive club dedicated to doing good deeds anonymously. Members are required to keep low profiles, which wouldn’t be difficult except for a rival club that will stop at nothing to thwart the Blue Moons’ good deeds.

Poised to pull off their greatest altruistic feat ever – saving a New York City landmark before a ruthless developer can swoop in and destroy the neighborhood - the Moons’ clubhouse is burgled and their plans are stolen. Claire is certain that the rival club is behind the theft, but proving it and retrieving the stolen items are even more difficult than deciphering those cryptic dreams of hers.

With all the secrets and sneakiness, it’s impossible for Clair to know exactly who’s doing what and why. Her dreams seem to warn her of danger, but first she has to decode the murky messages. One thing she knows – the stakes are high and someone’s life is at risk.

Mechling has created a novel full of original and well-rounded characters. More than that, her characters interact with each other in such realistic ways that the unfolding events and relationships are truly inevitable. Claire’s wit and snappy narrative are charming without resorting to the overly cute approach that some authors mistake for youthful enthusiasm.

Unlike so many YA books, Mechling gives Dream Life a realistic denouement – not happily ever after, but the best one can hope for in a world where nothing is perfect. What we have here is a series that resembles chocolate-covered broccoli – delicious to read while providing nutritious life lessons.
Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

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  Deborah Adams/2010 for curled up with a good kid's book  

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