‘When Dreams Come True’ is a Bildungsroman with a side-order of romance and a healthy dash of mystery. The book follows the adventures of Charlie, our teenage protagonist, as she navigates the complex world of first loves, friendships, vivid dreams and family mysteries.
What I liked most about this novel was its accessibility. The prose, written from the point of view of Charlie, flows beautifully. The use of a teenage idiolect isn’t grating or whiny at all, and the language is very elegant, littered with classic Year 9 slang. Emin strikes a nice balance between a captivating narrative and vocabulary that is appropriate for her target audience.
Although the main plot of the story follows the mystery surrounding Charlie’s Aunt and the vivid dreams Charlie has, the part of the book I found most entertaining (and it was all pretty entertaining!) was the romance side of things. Emin handles the awkward transition into adolescence perfectly, documenting the new pressures society places on boy-girl friendships with uncanny accuracy. My favourite scene was a game of Truth or Dare between the four friends. It just felt so authentic – I had a big, goofy smile on my face the entire time I was reading it!
I also really enjoyed the running theme of dreams that seem to come true. The dreams served to jumble the chronology of the plot and spark alternative narrative trails here and there. I loved the mystery that came along with these dreams; they, as well as the overarching plot about Aunt Jenny and the love triangle-turned-square-turned-delightfully-complicated-love-tangle, created tension in the novel. This book is very hard to put down!
The fluid writing style, charming characters and well-crafted plot make this novel a truly enjoyable read. At the end, readers are left with a feeling of what life is like growing up as a modern day teenager. We see the impacts of social media, teachers, family and, most importantly, friends. And the feeling this book leaves you with, I should add, is an overwhelmingly positive one.
I would recommend this book to anyone who fancies an entertaining read with a highly enjoyable romance element and something a little bit mysterious at its heart.