12-year-old Jake has been suppressing his heartbreak over the loss of his mother for the past 4 years. But his emotions have a way of haunting his dreams and bubbling to the surface when he least expects it. When Jake learns how to take control in his dreams, he becomes a lucid dreamer, and that’s when the battle really heats up. Using his wits to dodge bullies by day and a nefarious kangaroo hopping ever closer by night, Jake leans about loss, bravery, the power of love, and how you cannot fully heal until you face your greatest fear. This uncompromising novel is a magical yet honest exploration of emotional healing after a devastating loss.
Plot: Naiman’s richly developed novel follows likeable protagonist Jake as he battles his real-life and dream-world demons, and undergoes significant character growth as a result. Time travels differently in Jake’s magical-realistic, very vivid dream world, while the numerous flashbacks ground the storyline.
Prose: Naiman convincingly writes from the perspective of a child processing his grief and trauma, with authentic dialogue and fresh, funny prose.
Originality: This relatable novel offers familiar middle grade elements--the impact of bullying, social status, younger siblings--while integrating emotional and psychological complexity through the protagonist's imaginative dreamlife.
Character Development: The author crafts memorable characters that experience ample personal growth and degrees of self-realization over the course of the novel. Readers are clearly and immediately introduced to a small cast of key players who serve as guides to Jake’s waking adventures and have their own counterparts in his lucid dreamscapes.
Blurb: Naiman’s poignant coming-of-age novel offers a sensitive and honest examination of a child's spiritual and emotional battles.
Date Submitted: April 05, 2018
David J. Naiman is an expert at character development. His characters are lifelike and relatable. Jake’s father is extremely convincing as a parent and husband dealing with the loss of a partner. Parents and children would enjoy and profit by reading this book together. When it is difficult to articulate suffering and sorrow, this thought-provoking novel would serve as an honest exploration of emotional healing after an upsetting loss.
Jake, Lucid Dreamer by David J. Naiman is a charming look at a middle-schooler’s struggle to navigate grief and acceptance. With a touch of the surreal, Naiman has woven a fantastical tale with a powerful message about learning to face your demons, traversing the tricky plains of middle school, and how important compassion is in the face of adversity.