Book Review: The Good Dream

The Good DreamThe Good Dream by Donna VanLiere
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Release Date: July 3, 2012
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Publisher’s Description:

1950 Tennessee, a time and place that straddles the past and present. Ivorie Walker is considered an old maid by the town (though she’s only in her early thirties) and she takes that label with good humor and a grain of salt. Ever since her parents passed away, she has hidden her loneliness behind a fierce independence and a claim of not needing anyone. But her mother’s death hit her harder than anyone suspects and Ivorie wonders if she will be alone forever.

When she realizes that someone has been stealing vegetables from her garden—a feral, dirty-faced boy who disappears into the hills—something about him haunts Ivorie. She can’t imagine what would make him desperate enough to steal and eat from her garden. But what she truly can’t imagine is what the boy faces, each day and night, in the filthy lean-to hut miles up in the hills. Who is he? How did he come to live in the hills? Where did he come from? And, more importantly, can she save him? As Ivorie steps out of her comfort zone to uncover the answers, she unleashes a firestorm in the town—a community that would rather let secrets stay secret.

I just love Southern fiction and The Good Dream is Southern fiction done well. Ivorie is a wonderful character – a strong and caring woman who refuses to bend to society’s will. She lives in a small town with a big cast of characters; it reminded me of a Fannie Flagg novel in that way. The author uses wonderfully descriptive metaphors filled with Southern charm. Some of my favorite examples:

“As useful as a back pocket on a shirt”
“Slower than a turtle after Thanksgiving dinner”
“Helpful as teats on a bull”

There is a darker side in this book however. Some very bad things happen to the boy in the first part of the novel that might be hard for the fainthearted to read. I didn’t find any of it gratuitous though.

The narration is first person when Ivorie and her brother are each telling their story. Parts of the story are also told from the boy’s point of view and I absolutely loved the device the author used for his narration. (I don’t want to give too much away so I won’t get more detailed about that part.)

When I saw that the author was the narrator of the audio book, I was apprehensive. That doesn’t always go so well. After listening, I was pleasantly surprised – she did a great job. She used a light Southern accent for the prose and then varied the thickness of the accent for the dialogue depending on who was speaking. I surprised when I listened to the author interview at the end of the book to hear that she doesn’t actually have a Southern accent at all because it sounded so authentic when she was narrating. She even did a really good snobby Southern accent for the banker.

After I listened to this book, I learned that the author is considered a Christian fiction author. I don’t know if this book is considered Christian fiction; I didn’t feel like it was while I listening to it. It is inspirational but it doesn’t have a lot of religious talk or preaching in it. I would highly recommend The Good Dream to anyone.

Click here to listen to an audio clip of The Good Dream.

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(I received a copy of this book courtesy of the publisher.)

  • Harvee

    I have the ARC of this book and hope to read it soon. Your comments make me want to pick it up right now!