Zoe Burgess has created a wonderfully clever and touching
teenage world in "The Dream", a multipart story, which unfortunately has not
seen any new chapters for a number of months now. I am sure that Zoes many
enthusiastic fans are as disappointed about this as I am, but when last heard from, Zoe
was headed back to her studies and we can only hope that she emerges soon.
"The Dream" is about a teenage boy named Peter who has always believed that
he was a girl named Rebecca. As is now pretty standard for stories about TG teens. Peter
is the special victim of the school bully, who finally goes too far, leading to a set of
events that lead to Rebeccas coming out.
Although the circumstances of her emergence are painful for Rebecca, that she finally
does come out is fortuitous because it allows her to experience her femininity as she
meets new friends, deals with old ones who are just meeting Rebecca after years of knowing
Peter, and as she struggles with her feelings for the a boy who knew her as Peter.
These events unfold at a leisurely pace and its individual scenes are well developed
and described. One reads this story not so much for its plot line, which is not
particularly imaginative, as for the wonderfully touching world Zoe Burgess has created, a
big part of it existing only inside of Peter and Beccas mind. They just cant
stop themselves from thinking, and we can hear them, which is a real treat because their
powers of self-observation are what gives this delightful story a good deal of its charm.
Both Peter and Becca analyze things before they happen, while they happen and after
they happen so there is often a real-time stream of consciousness mental narration by the
main character that takes place in parallel with the narrative of the story. And Peter and
Beccas stream of consciousness is just a delight to wade in. It is witty,
irreverent, pointed, ironic, self-reflective, punishing, sad, and altogether a treat. I
dare you not to laugh out loud.
But thats not all. Zoe has created a world of three-dimensional characters who
display all the pain, wit, frustration, and overripe emotions that so characterize
adolescence. We really do get to know Peters and Beccas friends and they come
alive for us through excellent dialogue and in their wry observations of the world around
them. This is as it should be, because this really is a story of characters more than
The Dream isnt perfect, the story line is thin, its pacing is slow,
Its teenaged characters are a bit too bright, insightful, and emotionally sensitive.
To top it off, the whole thing is just too perky. Indeed, this story is not at all unlike
Ellen Hayes "The Saga of Tuck" and Dawn DeWinters
"...Moped" in that all three are populated by the overly bright, precocious
teenagers we all wish we could have been.
Unfortunately, the irrepressible optimism and light heart of this story make it a
little too difficult to really feel the pain, frustration, and fear that the teenage
characters express. Thus, the angst that accompanies Rebeccas emergence is not
nearly as palpable as the joy.
But in a way, these weaknesses are part of the storys strength as well, because
what we get in the end is served up with a wonderfully light touch that makes "The
Dream" more like a light summer desert than a filling winter dinner. But it is a
mighty tasty dessert and if you go in expecting to be entertained rather than hoping to
find the deeper meaning in your own existence, you wont be disappointed. In fact,
youll have a ball, hanging out with Peter, Rebecca, and their friends.
Late update! Your intrepid reporter actually emailed Zoe to see whats up.
Shes still hard at work in school and with her other responsibilities, but promised
to add a few more chapters soon. Lets all keep our fingers crossed.