The Bad Dream Notebook

Linda Dahl
She Writes Press (2017)
ISBN 9781631522949
Reviewed by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views (9/17)

“The Bad Dream Notebook” by Linda Dahl is a haunting, eye-opening novel about the absolute tragedy of addiction, the grief of loss, and the struggle to climb out of the depths of despair and hopelessness, toward a healthy, productive life.

Erica Mason has a seemingly perfect life–until everything falls apart. With the death of her husband and her teen-aged daughter’s escalating drug problem, every day is a challenge and she’d not sure how much more she can take. Though Erica has years in recovery from her own addiction, she is ill-prepared to help her daughter Mona. Her co-dependency, enabling, and utter blind-spot of anything having to do with Mona, could be the ultimate undoing of them both.

I found “The Bad Dream Notebook” to be a very engrossing read. It enraged, surprised, and filled me with both despair and hope on almost every page. Honestly, it is a hard story to stomach, as the author draws the reader into the dark world of addition with harrowing depictions inside the mind of the addict and those that love them.

I enjoyed the concept of each chapter beginning with a dream sequence. It set the tone for consistency and I’ve always been a fan of the journal entry approach. The dreams are dark and disturbing, and infuse a brief moment of disorientation– much like when you awaken suddenly from a dream that was so vivid, yet you can’t remember what happened to save your life!

The characters are as authentic as they are maddening. The actions of both Erica and Mona had me fuming many times, actually repeatedly throughout the book. I truly can’t say which one of them presented the most irritating and outrageous behavior: Mona’s attitude, treatment towards her mother, and the lengths she would go to in order to “score,” or Erica’s complete enmeshment with Mona and the things she did to enable her daughter’s actions. Aaarrgghh! Great writing!

I recommend “The Bad Dream Notebook” by Linda Dahl to anyone who has ever been through, or knows someone who has experienced the turmoil of addiction, as well as anyone with an interest in the topic. It is an insightful, honest, and compelling story that will at first break your heart, then deepen your compassion, and finally, restore hope.

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