‘Jake, Lucid Dreamer’ by David J. Naiman
Finished on April 26, 2018
GIVEN A FREE COPY IN EXCHANGE FOR AN HONEST REVIEW
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Twelve-year-old Jake has not yet come to terms with the death of his mother four years ago. His grief manifests as misdirected anger and through vivid nightmares. When he realizes he can control himself in the dream world, things begin to change.
Characters from his daily life seep into his dream world — from his school bully to the girl he crushes on — but they all appear as animals, never people. His greatest nemesis is a kangaroo named Connor, and no matter what he does, he can’t seem to dodge him.
Through a twisting meld of his dreams and his waking life, Jake learns about loss, grief, and everlasting love. He learns you cannot heal without confronting your grief straight on.
This uncompromising novel is a magical yet honest exploration of emotional healing after a devastating loss.
I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I related to this novel on a deeply personal level. I was around Jake’s age when my own mother died (followed by my father three years later), and I began having vivid nightmares shortly afterward. I continue to have them to this day. I can lucid dream on the rare occasion, but not as often or as cohesively as Jake does.
I am still working to overcome the grief of losing my parents. I wish I had been as self-aware as Jake at his age; it wouldn’t have taken me into my thirties to begin to process it all, and my life would have been infinitely better for it.
Naiman does a phenomenal job of portraying what grief both looks and feels like. There were several times in this book where I welled up because it was just so relatable and accurate as to how it feels to be a child of an ill and dying parent.
Jake’s mother dies of cancer. Both of my parents died of AIDS-related complications. My mother from a whole slew of things, and my father from a brain tumor. I know what it feels like to be a helpless kid who’s whole world is in turmoil over stuff you cannot control or fully understand.
I’m not sure if Naiman, himself, lost one of his parents as a child. I sincerely hope not, and if he hasn’t, he’s got a real grasp of what it’s like. And his writing style is smooth and a delight to read. He speaks, somehow, with both of the voice of a traumatized pre-teen boy and a wise adult.
This is a lovely book. It’s both heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time. When Jake finally confronts his fears, and what he finds beyond them, is something truly magical. Something that all of us who have lost someone we love long for so very much.
If you’re in the mood for a touching, emotional read that really “gets it”, pick this book up. It won’t disappoint you.