“Drama queen” is Jaye Stuart’s family nickname, and her story hands out drama with a will. The amount of bodily harm occurring in this Minneapolis high school theater geek’s life — two car accidents, a couple of violent fights between two boys who love her, a fall on the ice — may strain credulity, but it certainly drives the plot.
How does a girl get out from under what a father wants her to do? How does she gain the courage to push back and create her own life? Especially if that father has recently died, and is canonized by the rest of the family, as the dead so often are? How do their memories gaslight the one who remembers differently? How can she keep faith with herself without losing her family?
This is what Jacqueline West’s book pursues, through (appropriately) dramatic means.
West’s middle-grade “The Books of Elsewhere” series made the New York Times bestseller list because of its unusual psychological depth as well as its effective plot. “Dreamers Often Lie” also uses unusual sources of depth, conveyed in rich language.
After Jaye awakes following a serious skiing accident, she begins to have vivid hallucinations of Shakespeare and several of his characters. The moral ambiguity and deep questions of his tragedies are woven into the story, as Jaye desperately tries to keep her role of Titania in a production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” and also to hold onto her own life while well-meaning people try to take it from her.
Many teens — especially theater types! — will find this story resonant.
Ann Klefstad is a writer and artist in Duluth.
Dreamers Often Lie
By: Jacqueline West.
Publisher: Dial Books, 353 pages, $17.99.
Events: 6:30 p.m. April 8, Red Balloon Bookstore, 891 Grand Av., St. Paul; Authors After Hours, 6:45 p.m. May 20, Daily Grind, Stillwater, sponsored by Valley Bookseller, $5.