Seven seemingly very different individuals appear one day in a big, white room in which there is nothing save them and seven unique chairs. The seven are told that this place will make their dreams come true, but not the materialistic or romantic sort. Rather, it is about overcoming deep fears that are holding each of these seven back. One must learn strength while another must learn self-acceptance, and yet another had to learn to speak up for herself.
In John Dreamer, author Elise Celine has managed to write, aptly enough, with a dreamlike tone that surrounds the reader with a cloud-like feeling. It reminded me a lot of the feeling I got while reading the book By Death’s Feather. In both books, a straightforward yet intriguing plot and a regular, attention-grabbing yet not overwhelming pace creates a safe space in which some difficult concepts are addressed.
In this safe setting, seven individuals with seven very different obstacles in their characters are placed in situations where they have to face their fears, in such a way as to be able to live their life to the fullest. While some of the characters do not receive as deep a treatment as they could have, Elise Celine gives in each case much food for thought to her readers. This is especially true of the only character other than the main protagonist whose point of view we get to witness during one of the chapters in the book, which added depth to the lesson he was in the white room to learn.
The only case in which this lack of depth is actually disappointing is the development surrounding the main protagonist, Andy. She should have had the most depth, as the story is told from her point of view. But while she has a lot of insights into the other characters, she doesn’t share much of her insights about herself. I understand that there is a sequel in the works, in which hopefully this shortcoming will be addressed. I do confess that I am on the fence as to if I would want to read it though; for if the sequel is also the last book in the series, and does not answer the many questions I have about Andy, I will be left a little dissatisfied, to say the least.
Amidst the food for thought came a delightful character by the name of The Guardian, whom I imagined as being a lot like Gene Wilder’s Willy Wonka in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. The comic relief that he provides makes for an elegant but distinct break between each of the characters’ dreams being fulfilled as well as a transition that could have otherwise been quite bumpy. The book ends on a cliff-hanger, but instead of leaving me intrigued and wanting more, it left me frustrated.
While there are many smaller lessons in John Dreamer, the most important one, to which teenagers, young adults, and adults alike can relate, is that to fulfill our full potential, we have to conquer our biggest fears. Fear makes us put up barriers; fear shuts us down; fear makes us forget the valuable contribution that we can make to the betterment of our communities. Overcoming one’s fear is not just about living our life to the fullest; it is also making sure that our communities profit from everyone’s best. Many of the characters who manage to overcome their fears return to their communities able to make significant positive contributions.
Elise Celine’s John Dreamer is an intriguing, easy read that touches upon some deep concepts. The writing is impeccable and allows the reader to be welcomed into a world where dreams come true.