Dream Girl

Dream Girl – Laura Lippman

After an accident leaves him bedridden, author Gerry Andersen begins receiving letters, phone calls and visits from a woman claiming to be Audrey – the central character from his most successful novel DREAM GIRL.  With a history of mental illness in his family, is Gerry beginning to lose his mind or is someone from his past out for blood?

I received an advanced copy from the publisher in exchange for a review.

While I’ve read a handful of novels by Laura Lippman, DREAM GIRL immediately jumped out to me after seeing a blurb from Megan Abbott where she said she devoured it in three days; labeling it “razor-sharp” and “enthralling”.

Let’s get this out of the way – I absolutely hated Gerry Andersen.  The guy is insufferable.  If he isn’t extolling the virtues of his own writing, he’s tearing down the work of others (dismissing the work of Chandler and Hammett) or lamenting the way the world has now turned into something he has a difficult time navigating given the ever-changing landscape of social justice.  It’s hard to find sympathy for Gerry at times; having to spend over three hundred pages with him can be grating.

But, that’s the point.  Lippman doesn’t want this guy to be likable.  Like she has Gerry say in the novel, “my characters are my characters… I think it’s somewhat naïve, as a reader, to talk about whether writers “like” their characters.  That’s not the point of what I’m doing.”

Gerry is a character that often tries to do well (despite his actual beliefs) and in doing so, believes himself to be without enemies.  However, as one character points out (and I’m paraphrasing here), if he thinks he got to where he is in life without fostering enemies, he’s out of his mind.  It’s the crux of the #metoo movement, which this book tackles, that powerful men often underestimate their power and how their actions can carry devastating effects for those who refuse to go along with them.

Despite its rather brief length, I found the story did take a while to get going.  Once it does though, it’s pretty hard to put it down.  And it has a hell of a twist at the end that I didn’t see coming even though I’m not sure how I missed it.  I knew a twist was coming, so maybe I was too busy trying to work out these insane scenarios in my head that in the end, were pretty laughable.

In the author’s note, Lippman said she had been inspired by Stephen King’s Misery as well as a desire to try her hand in the horror genre.  I will say that the Misery inspiration is hard to overlook for sure, as it almost feels more like an homage than anything.  While I’m not sure if this is one I would want to place in the horror section of a bookstore, it’s definitely a twisty psychological thriller.

DREAM GIRL is scheduled for release on July 01, 2021

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