Is the number 8 really lucky?

I am a person with a constant war of head versus heart. And as much as I’m aware of it, the former often wins.

This is exactly what I went through while reading Sarah Dessen’s Dreamland, my eighth book (Yay! :p) for 2012. Don’t be fooled. As imaginative as it may sound, Dreamland is merely a story of a high-school girl named Caitlin, who tries to cope with her ‘overshadowing’ sister, Cass. In other words, it’s a story of a girl’s insecurities towards her sister, leading her in (surprise!) screwing everything up. At least that’s how I interpret it.

You see, I can’t seem to help it. It’s the way I’m wired — rational, moral, and often times logical, to the point that I forget about emotions. This is my first Sarah Dessen book and I could easily say that it was beautifully written. And there were lots of lessons, too. But eventually it lost me when it started getting predictable and when Caitlin started getting dull, and specifically, when Rogerson started hitting her. A man hitting his woman isn’t new today. But a woman allowing it is a different story, although it also isn’t new today.

I don’t know why but it’s probably because of Caitlin and I’s differences, our contrasting beliefs and everything. For one, I hate stupid protagonists. No, wait. I hate stupidity in general. Stupidity in the sense of losing one’s concept of right or wrong; in the sense of letting one’s emotions dictate what to do. I remember what my Grade 6 teacher used to say in class whenever his students abuse his kindness: “Once is enough. Twice is too much. Thrice is stupidity.” Or something like that. And, well, it’s been helpful to me ever since.

I can’t also help but cringe every time she says she can’t leave him after everything he’s done, or even the fact that she can’t simply share what’s been happening to anybody. Anybody. I’m actually glad that she didn’t end up crazy or something. I mean, look where her wanting to be different from her sister got her. More importantly, look at what happened when she let her heart get in the way.

Now, my only question is: WHY? If you’ve read it (and I’m encouraging you to so you can fully understand what I’m trying to say here), you would agree when I say that Caitlin did not do a thing about.. anything — which I find alarming. Not about Cass, not about school or cheerleading, and not about Rogerson. Dear, sweet, savage Rogerson. She just doesn’t seem to have a mind of her own, letting everything else around her define her.

And please, don’t she, or anyone, dare use that love crap on me. Unh-uh.

If it’s any consolation, I don’t hate her. But I definitely don’t like her either. And obviously, I don’t get this. I don’t get her and I don’t get how people can tolerate such things. But with all due respect, I greatly admire those who do. Maybe it’s just me or maybe it’s the book. But clearly, it is a gift I do not, in any way, possess. What I know is that whatever it is, I don’t think I can ever, ever, quite comprehend love the way that these people do. The way that Caitlin already does. x

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