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Dreamland by Sarah Dessen, Penguin Group Inc: New York, 2000

"When Eliza, Lindsay, and I all finally stood up to walk to the ambulance to get bandaged up, the crowd stood and gave us a standing O. We went on to win the game bug, but my topple made everything else anticlimactic."


anticlimax, n. an event, period, or outcome that is strikingly less important or dramatic than expected

The protagonist, Caitlin, has fallen off the top of the cheerleader's pyramid at the season's biggest football game. She also injured several other cheerleaders as she fell. She was distracted because she heard someone in the crowd yell out her sister's name. Caitlin has hated cheerleading ever since she made the team and falling from the top of the pyramid certainly didn't entice her to stick with it. Thankfully nobody was hurt too seriously but it put a damper on the entire evening.

As in reality, the crowd will probably not remember the opposing team, the cheerleading routine, or even the score of the game but nobody will forget the distracted cheerleader who lost her balance on top of the pyramid. Nothing else seems important anymore. It doesn't matter that the cheerleaders walked away unharmed and they won the game, all most people will remember was the drama of the accident.

I think this incident really emphasizes how much Caitlin's sister was on her mind and how unfocused and unaware of her surroundings Caitlin was. She was very wrapped up in the drama left by Cass and when she heard someone yell her name she thought Cass might be there. These two sisters, despite their differences, were obviously close. Caitlin must now suffer from the aftermath Cass left behind when she ran away.

" 'You know,' he said thoughtfully, 'you ask a lot of questions.'

'I do not,' I said indignantly."


indignation, adj. anger aroused by something unjust, unworthy, or mean

Caitlin has been asking her new boyfriend Rogerson questions about his family and friends, something a typical date might consist of. Rogerson however, is not a typical boyfriend. He told her that she asks a lot of questions, which angered Caitlin. She felt ignored on the date, while he talked to his friends and rarely introduced her. She admits later that, " ''s not like I want sparkling conversation...I just wondered why you asked me out tonight, if you didn't really want me here.'" (77) For this moment she stands up for herself, not accepting his accusations as a conclusion to her pressure for conversation.Unfortunately it doesn't last, she moves on and he continues.

I think it was important to have Caitlin respond the way she did. It demonstrates the strength of their relationship in the beginning and sets the tone for the rest f the book. Her anger in this instance is pretty much the last time she stands up for herself even briefly in her relationship. After this point she takes whatever he gives her, usually without complaints, and comes to expect his behavior.

Maybe if Caitlin had realized at this point that this was only the beginning of Rogerson's disrespect toward her she could have stopped it right there, from the beginning. If she had realized that that would only be the beginning then maybe it would not have escalated any further. This could have saved her from the drugs, the violence, and ultimately the rehabilitation and therapy.

"I had expected my parents to be even more vigilant about my relationship with Rogerson because of Cass running away."


vigilant, adj. alertly watchful especially to avoid danger

Caitlin's sister Cass has run away just before she was expected to attend Yale. Obviously this devastated her family, particularly her parents. They believed this was the doing of her new beau, who convinced her to leave with him and go to New York. After an incident like that, Caitlin believed her parents would be extremely careful with her from then on, not wanting to risk losing their other daughter. Surprisingly, the situation is the exact opposite. Her parents are somewhat withdrawn when it comes to Caitlin's new relationship with Rogerson. This seems to continue throughout the book. Caitlin's parents are blind not only to the fact that they're too preoccupied with Cass to worry about Caitlin, but also to the fact that Caitlin's new boyfriend was abusing her. This allows the abuse to continue, completely unnoticed not only by her family but also her friends.

Caitlin's parents might have been in the type of situation where they only see the best in their children, blindly looking past all of the negative possibilities. They did not believe that their child would use drugs, smoke, or be being abused, just like they may not understand their daughter running off with her boyfriend.

I think Caitlin's parent's involvement in her life could have been the best preventative to her abuse. They would have noticed the bruises and realize they could not all be explained by slipping on ice or falling down the stairs. If they noticed something was wrong and considered the possibility of abuse, and Caitlin would not have had to live with the violence as long as she did.

"Seeing my camera made the past six months come rushing back: the solace I'd sought in the darkroom."





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