________________ CM . . . . Volume VI Number 17 . . . . April 28, 2000

cover The Dream Where the Losers Go.

Beth Goobie.
Montreal, PQ: Roussan Publishers Inc., 1999.
206 pages, pbk., $8.95.
ISBN 1-896184-62-6.

Subject Headings:
Teenagers-Mental health services-Juvenile fiction.
Dreams-Juvenile fiction.
Rape-Juvenile fiction.
Gangs-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 10-12 / Ages 15-17.
Review by Sandra Vincent.

*** /4


Crouched low and silent, she listened to his sounds fade. When fear stopped slamming through her, she closed her hand over the rock that had rolled against her foot. It was small with rough edges, slightly wet, as everything in this place. She stood, warming it in her palm, then continued around the outside of the meeting place. Five tunnel mouths until she thought she had found the one he had taken. There was no sound of him now but she moved into the sixth tunnel, feeling her way along with her left hand, the rock held in her right, following him further into the dark.

Skey woke holding the rock in her hand. At first she didn't notice it. She had been jolted out of sleep by the muffled sound of Ann's radio in the next room.

The dreamy beginning may turn some readers off, but the story is worth the walk for those readers who live (or want to live) on the dangerous side, while the strong subject matter may be just right for yet others. Goobie delivers the jagged-edged story of Skey Mitchell, a girl in her mid to late teens, who is incarcerated in a lock-up for adolescent girls. The story unfolds slowly as readers gradually make sense of why Skey's been placed there. In a recurring dream, Skey repeatedly feels her way along a wall in the dark. In one visit to this dream world, she encounters a boy, but, unable to see each other, they continue to talk in the dark through a series of "dreams." In the real world, Skey is released to return to high school during the day. Her boyfriend, Jigger, who lurks a couple of blocks away in his car, drives her to school. They kiss hard, and he repeatedly and successfully pressures her for sex. Jigger, Skey and their friends call themselves the Dragons, a shadowy gang, which includes San, Pedro, and Balfour. Goobie's spare prose paints the tension Skey experiences when around them. In English class, Skey finds herself paired with a green-eyed thin guy named Lick. Though Lick characterizes himself as a loser, surprisingly, sexual energy simmers between the two of them, and Skey comes to think that he may be the cross-over dream guy. Jealous of Lick, Jigger and the Dragons viciously beat him in front of Skey.

In school, Skey is also paired with a student tutor, Tammy, who brings her spicy Jamaican food, a warm nourishing moment in what is otherwise Skey's walking dream-state anguish. Reality and dream world crossover in a climatic scene wherein Skey sneaks downstairs to let the waiting Dragons into the detention center where she believes they want to rape the residents, something she suddenly and shakingly recalls they once did to her. Her worlds collide, and finally enough detail, including that of Lick's own sexual abuse, is revealed for readers to comprehend the story. Because the plot takes a long time to unravel, less committed readers may abandon the book while the timid may be shocked by the gritty subject matter. The Dream Where the Losers Go is a soft title for such a hard-hitting book. Although there is a tough side of life in this book, the resolution is believable and not without hope.

Recommended with Reservations.

Sandra Vincent is a teacher candidate and student of adolescent literature in the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364