Life Is But a Dream

Life Is But a Dream

3.74 (872 ratings by Goodreads)
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3.74 (872 ratings by Goodreads)

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Sabrina, an artist, is diagnosed with schizophrenia, and her parents check her into the Wellness Center. There she meets Alec, who is convinced it's the world that's crazy, not the two of them. They are meant to be together; they are special. But when Alec starts to convince Sabrina that her treatment will wipe out everything that makes her creative, she worries that she'll lose hold of her dreams and herself. Should she listen to her doctor? her decision may have fatal consequences.
Brian James calls Life is But a Dream "the most intense book I've written. Bringing this unique character to life and seeing the world through her eyes, with all its beauty and confusion, was an immense challenge that I hope is just as rewarding to read as it was to write." Intense--yes. Unforgettable--definitely.
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Product details

  • 12-17
  • Hardback | 235 pages
  • 147 x 213 x 24mm | 318g
  • New York, NY, United States
  • English
  • 0312610041
  • 9780312610043
  • 854,904

Review quote

."..compelling..."--"Kirkus" ."..a fast read with extensive dialogue and fantastic visual descriptions."--"VOYA"
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About Brian James

Brian James is the author of several highly praised books for young adults, including "Pure Sunshine"; "Tomorrow, Maybe"; "Dirty Liar, ""Zombie Blondes"; and "The Heights." He lives in Upstate New York.
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Rating details

872 ratings
3.74 out of 5 stars
5 33% (286)
4 28% (240)
3 26% (228)
2 8% (70)
1 6% (48)

Our customer reviews

Sabrina has always had an active imagination, and as an artist she would constantly draw pictures of everything she could dream of. Her parents concerned with her well-being place her in a wellness center where she meets Alec. He’s not sick like Sabrina, but has more psychological problems. Sabrina on the other hand suffers from Schizophrenia and has paranoid delusions of everyone and everything. Her dreams mesh into reality making her even more unstable because she can’t distinguish dreams from reality. One might be a little wary to read a novel that emphasizes on a mental illness like Schizophrenia, but I felt the story was rather sweet and undeniably sad at the same time. Sabrina’s mind was such a mix of frenzied activity that it was even hard to read what was going on. I couldn’t help but wonder if this is how the mental illness feels like. You could feel the emotions leap from the page. Alec being her only friend and confidante was the only one who made her feel truly alive. And I love his character. The way he was there for her, and really listened made all the difference in the world. Even in her state, she falls in love, and that made her cling to her life even more. At first, the back and forth of reality and memories confused me a little, because I had to think about which state Sabrina was in, but other than that I loved the beautiful written story. Brian James sure knows how to evoke a tear jerker of a novel!show more
by Giselle SM
4.5 stars! I was first attracted to this book by it's cover. I think it's really beautiful. A little sad looking, the way the girl is lying at the bottom. But sad is okay. Covers don't always have to be happy to be beautiful. I was nosing around on friends blogs when I saw this. So I put it on my wishlist to buy as soon as it came out. Little did I know I wouldn't have to because I got it as a Galley from Macmillan via Net Galley. What's the story about? A young artist called Sabrina is diagnosed with Schizophrenia. She is checked into the Wellness Centre by her parents, hoping that they can give her the right medication and make her better. Due to the medication, Sabrina no longer see things the way she saw them before and that makes her upset. She misses the colours and the beautiful way she saw things outside the centre's walls. The only thing she doesn't miss is the static. The noise she heard everywhere and was sure was out to get her. Life at the Wellness Centre is dull. There's the medication. Regular meetings with her doctor. An endless loop of repetitiveness. She no longer even has a passion for her art the way she did on the outside. All that changes the day Alec is admitted. He's young, good-looking and convinces Sabrina that it's the world that's crazy, not her. The pair fall in love. They're meant to be together. They're special. No-one can understand them like each other, but that's okay because they don't need anyone else. Alec convinces Sabrina to come off her medication. He says it dulls her senses. He says it will wipe out everything that makes her creative. Sabrina worries that she will lose hold of her dreams, her life. So she does as Alec says. When the nurse brings her meds, Sabrina takes them, but hides them under her tongue until the nurse leaves the room. The question is, is Sabrina really schizophrenic or is it the world that's wrong? Is the doctor trying to convince her she's ill as a rouse for keeping her at the centre and medicated to the eyeballs? There is no doubt that LIFE IS BUT A DREAM is a beautiful story. It's a roller coaster ride of emotions. You feel happy, you feel sad. You want to cry, good tears and sad ones. It's clear that Sabrina is troubled and you just want things to all work out for her in the end. I have never read anything about anyone with a mental illness before, so this was completely new to me. It was an eye-opening experience for me in more ways than one because whilst I have a friend with ADHD and one who is Bi-polar, I don't know anyone who is schizophrenic. It was a learning curve for me to feel like I was in the head of a schizophrenic young girl. I realised, amongst other things, that it must be so hard to try and deal with this illness. I have the utmost respect for anyone who has this illness and lives with it every day of their lives. I think Brian James is brave and courageous for introducing us to a new kind of story. I tend to find that in most YA books, if you strip them back to their bare bones, they are basically a love story with a story built around it. Whereas if you strip LIFE IS BUT A DREAM back, you will find a story of a girl with a mental illness who struggles to cope. Yes there is a little bit of a love story but in this case it is worked around the main story not the other way around. Thanks must go to Brian James for opening my eyes a little more to the world around me. To Macmillan for approving me for the Galley. Also to Net Galley for providing the Galley. I think they are a wonderful site. It's a great way of getting ARCs of books that I may otherwise not know more
by Keren Kiesslinger
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