Winters, C. (2014). The Cure for Dreaming. New York, NY: Amulet Books.
Plot Summary: When Oliva attends a hypnotist’s show for her birthday she is called up on stage as a volunteer. After she is hypnotized on stage she is escorted home by one of the boys from school who never noticed her before. When she gets home she is confronted by her father for attending a suffragette rally and when her father learns what happened at the show he comes up with a terrifying idea he wants to have his daughter hypnotized into obedience. When Oliva is hypnotized by Monsieur Reverie for the second time he forces her to not be able to talk back and to see the world how it really is. While her father hopes this will cause her to see her place in the world as a good and subservient woman it really causes her to see just how mistreated the women around her really are and makes her more determined to fight for women’s rights. She discovers that her classmate has only developed a sudden interest in her because he believes her to a quiet and submissive girl and after a date he tries to take advantage of her. She escapes but just barely because her hypnosis instructions do not allow her to fully fight back. When she tells Monsieur Reverie what happened he hypnotizes her again to allow her to talk back though instructs her only to do so if she is in danger so her father will not find out. However, her father discovers she is still supporting women’s rights and forces Monsieur Reverie to hypnotize her once more making her physically ill when she hears mention of terms supporting women’s rights. He plans to display Olivia as a solution to problematic women in front of a convention but doesn’t know Oliva and Monsieur Reverie have created their own plan to turn everyone against her father and that over the course of this ordeal they have fallen in love. Olivia is hypnotized again to undo what Monsieur Reverie has done before and they trick several women in the audience into being hypnotized themselves and having their voices taken away. At this point Monsieur Reverie suddenly faints, while this messes up their plans it makes the women resolved to fight for women’s rights. The book ends with Olivia leaving her father to live with her mother and planning on reuniting with Monsieur Reverie someday.
Critical Evaluation: The writing in the book is well done and fits the overall dreamlike mood of the book. The story blends historical fact with fantasy and the writing style reflects this well having more descriptive dreamlike passages where Olivia is facing the effects of her hypnosis contracted with more strait forward passages that describe how things actually are. It is easy for the reader to tell when Olivia is seeing things a certain way because of hypnosis or if that is how things really are even when this is not as clear to Olivia. The book has great character development when it comes to Olivia when the book begins she is much more meek, she is questioning the way women are treated and curious about change. As the story progresses she becomes surer of her beliefs and finds ways to enact change even when her hypnosis will not allow her to speak out directly. She also gains more insight into those around her especially her father who she originally sees as an imposing figure but comes to see more as a scared little boy. The setting in the book is also very well done keeping true history of Portland and the popularity of shows like Monsieur Reverie’s authentic, even with the more fantastical elements of the story.
Reader’s Annotation: When Olivia attends a hypnosis show on her birthday she believes it is a perfect night, the show is a lot of fun and the boy she has a crush on who has never noticed her before even escorts her home. Once she gets home though things go horribly wrong her father has found out she is involved in the suffragette movement and has resolved to do anything to make her obey.
Author Information: Cat Winters has previously been included in a YA anthology and written another YA book In the Shadow of Blackbirds, this book is also a mix of historical fiction and fantasy and explores the popularity of spiritualism during the First World War. She is currently working on a new YA novel as well as a new novel for adults which will be her second published book for adults the first being The Uninvited which will be published next month. Cat Winters grew up in Southern California and currently lives in Portland Oregon.
Genre: Historical fiction and fantasy
Curriculum Ties: Suffragette movement
Booktalk Ideas: 1) Why were some women opposed to getting the right to vote?
2) Why didn’t Olivia’s ability to see the world the way it truly is fully disappear when the other effects of her hypnosis did?
Reading Level & Interest Level: Barnes and Nobel lists the reading level as age 12. The interest level in this book would start at about this age up to adults. The author has written for both Adults and teens so I could see crossover interest with adults reading her books for younger readers especially young adults.
Challenge Issues: There shouldn’t be challenge issues with this book there is a little romance in the book but it is not graphic. There is also an attempted assault on Oliva which may be upsetting to some. However, she is able to get away pretty quickly and though she is shaken up she is mostly unharmed. The scene is not graphic or gratuitous and serves to make an important point in the book. Additionally the book was named to ALA’s 2015 Amelia Bloomer Project, the 2014 Tiptree Award Longlist, and VOYA’s 2014 Best Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror.
Why is it included?: I previously read and enjoyed Cat Winters’ book In the Shadow of Blackbirds so I thought it would be interesting to see if I liked this book as much as liked that one and that it would be a fun book for readers who enjoy both fantasy and historical fiction.
Resources: Winters, C. (n.d.). Cat Winters. Retrieved July 7, 2015, from http://www.catwinters.com