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Life is But a Dream

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3.74  ·  Rating Details  ·  757 Ratings  ·  171 Reviews
Sabrina, an artist, is diagnosed with schizophrenia, and her parents check her into the Wellness Center. There she meets Alec, who is convinced it's the world that's crazy, not the two of them. They are meant to be together; they are special. But when Alec starts to convince Sabrina that her treatment will wipe out everything that makes her creative, she worries that she'l ...more
Hardcover, 234 pages
Published March 27th 2012 by Feiwel & Friends
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2012 YA Contemporary Challenge!
69th out of 214 books — 1,326 voters
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55th out of 242 books — 904 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Catie
Mar 24, 2012 Catie rated it liked it
Recommended to Catie by: Jo
One of the many things that fascinate me about mental disorders is the thought that some of these symptoms that we’ve labeled and classified as illnesses might not be illnesses at all. For most of the twentieth century, homosexuality was classified as a mental illness. “Schizophrenia” appears in cultures around the globe, but its manifestations tend to differ from one culture to another –as do the cultural attitudes surrounding it. Our “normal” perception of the world is really just a hallucinat ...more
Giselle
Mar 14, 2012 Giselle rated it liked it
Shelves: arc, own, contemporary
Did you know that Schizophrenia typically appears between the ages of 16 and 25? How old are you? Scary, huh? I've always been fascinated, if a bit terrified, by this illness. I got a chance to learn a lot about it in one of my psychology classes at University and it's not a disorder that many really understand. Life Is But a Dream takes us in the mind of Sabrina - in a mental facility because of this incurable illness.

There is so much sadness, underneath it all. We go into Sabrina's mind and se
...more
Reynje
Life Is But A Dream is an unusual, intense book that tackles the subject of truth as perception from the angle of mental illness.

Sabrina is a schizophrenic teen, checked into the Wellness Centre after events that are slowly revealed through a series of flashbacks. Using these snapshots of the recent past and Sabrina’s childhood, James sharpens the image of Sabrina-in-the-present, where she meets and becomes close to fellow patient Alec. Sabrina is convinced that there is a connection between sh
...more
Jo
Feb 18, 2012 Jo rated it really liked it
“I know how to stand still even when the Earth spins faster and faster than it ever did before. The rest of them try to keep up with the rhythm until it makes them dizzy. And with dizzy eyes, they stare at me and say I’m crazy.”

I absolutely adored this book. I wasn’t so sure at first because mental illness will always be an incredibly sensitive subject for me. It seems that mental illness is a subject that can either be done really, really badly, or really, really well.
Thankfully, this book f
...more
Darkfallen
Dec 07, 2011 Darkfallen rated it liked it
Shelves: arc
I have always had a thing about books dealing with mental illness, so when I read the synopsis for this book I was hooked! I mean a girl struggling with schizophrenia in a mental institution? Ummmmm YES PLEASE!

That and schizophrenia is something I know very little about, but have always wondered about. So deciding to pick this up was an easy decision to make.

Sabrina is a 15 year old girl that has come to realize that she doesn't see the world like everyone else does. When she was a child she alw
...more
Jessi
Nov 07, 2011 Jessi rated it liked it
Books set in psychiatric institutions fascinate me. Their world is completely different from anything that we experience on a regular basis--the doctors, the regimens, the interactions. It also takes a lot of careful consideration to craft a character living in a setting like this. Brian James created a very interesting world here, but for some reason, something didn't 100% click for me with this one.

The main character, Sabrina, is locked up in a psychiatric facility and diagnosed as schizophren
...more
Bookworm1858
Jan 20, 2013 Bookworm1858 rated it really liked it
This book caught my interest from the song lyrics for "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" as well as my deep love of contemporary novels. By the time I picked this up, I had read Ultraviolet (review to come) and had high expectations for the writing and characterization (yes Ultraviolet is about a character with a neurological phenomenon while this is about a character with schizophrenia but both are about female teenagers placed involuntarily in mental facilities.

I have never really thought of myself as
...more
Lewis Buzbee
Jun 18, 2012 Lewis Buzbee rated it it was amazing
Life is But a Dream is a beautiful and brave and necessary book. And it’s one of those books that to paraphrase the story does the book a disservice. Sabrina is a teenage girl who is schizophrenic, and who, in the course of her treatment, meets a boy she believes she has a special bond with. But this is not a book “about” schizophrenia, nor is it a romance. It’s a book, in the end, about what it means to be human, about how to find your place and identity in the world, and how to hold on to the ...more
Nicola
Feb 28, 2012 Nicola rated it liked it
Reading Life is But a Dream was a very interesting experience for me. I was really intrigued by the description and was interested in seeing how it would be played out. The cover is also just lovely! It's so light and airy, much like the whole tone of this book. I had huge expectations for this one and while it didn't really live up to them, it was still a good read that I'd recommend to anyone with an interest in books dealing with mental health issues.

The writing in this was a bit hard for me
...more
Heather
Mar 28, 2012 Heather rated it it was amazing
Sabrina is young, 15, and I thought that was too young for schizophrenia, but I was informed by my 15 yr old that they just studied it in Health and that it isn't too young. So my tax dollars at work, he learned something! But I do think it's unusual. Still it happens to Sabrina and though she's delusional she's strong in some ways. She was taken advantage of and her mind just built a different, though pretty world around the ugly things kids did to her. In fact, she escaped from reality all the ...more
Stephanie
Jun 12, 2012 Stephanie rated it it was amazing
Sabrina has always been a little odd: she daydreams, builds fairy coves, sees the whole world like a Van Gogh painting, acts very impulsively and is very naive. This isn't seen as a problem until the event that leads to her admittance to the Wellness Center. Sabrina is not entirely convinced that she wants to be "fixed." She likes her daydreams and the colors she sees in the sky. When she meets Alex, another patient at the Center, she hopes that maybe he will accept her the was she is.



Really, re
...more
Star Frasier
Dec 08, 2015 Star Frasier rated it it was amazing
Shelves:
Plot:I enjoyed Life is but a Dream by Brian James, because it told me about how Sabrina lived before she went to Well Care center for her treatment. Before she went to Well Care Center she daydreamed and got very bad grades. Also when she was little, her friend always asked her to draw a picture of what she was day dreaming about. It was so amazing, she said it was amazing and cool. As they grew older her friend didn’t even ask for a drawing of the day dreams anymore. It was like she didn’t even ...more
Lauren
Dec 27, 2011 Lauren rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalleybooks, 2012
As soon as I first saw the beautiful cover of this one, I automatically added it to my wishlist. It also didn't hurt that it sounded unique and one of a kind. I mean, two crazy people falling in love? What's not intriguing about that? Luckily, Life is But a Dream ended up blowing me away, because not only was the story within its pages startling yet spellbinding but also the writing was simply GORGEOUS! There was so much I just loved about this one to tell the truth.

Life is But a Dream begins t
...more
Andie Z
Jan 08, 2012 Andie Z rated it really liked it
Read this review and more on my blog From A to Z.


This book was so much more real than I was expecting. For some reason when I first heard about it I got the impression that it had almost a psychological thriller feel to it and that the reader was going to be unsure about which was reality - Sabina’s dreams or the facility where she lives. This is NOT the plot, clearly I am just an idiot (in my defense I think I first read a different synopsis than the one above), and what happens is actually a v
...more
Laura
Dec 19, 2015 Laura rated it really liked it
Review will be posted at Owl Tell You About It on release date.

Achingly beautiful. Those are the two words that come to mind upon finishing this book. I sincerely hope that this book gets all the buzz it deserves and does well. With so many hyped books coming out next year, it would be easy for this one to fall between the cracks. Don’t let that happen! It really is beautiful.

This book is both a look at the world through the eyes of a girl while her mind slowly unravels and a gorgeous love story
...more
Kat
Mar 13, 2012 Kat rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4 1/2 stars

From the opening pages I was completely immersed in the story of Sabrina and I had no trouble loosing myself in this book. Told in alternating past and present, with flashbacks to Sabrina’s childhood, I initially found myself questioning whether Sabrina was really ill or just a daydreamer of a girl with an over-active imagination.

Life is But a Dream is beautifully, intensely written. As I read the book I was more and more enamoured with Sabrina and couldn’t help but want the best p
...more
Liviania
Jun 12, 2012 Liviania rated it really liked it
I have read several books by Brian James, but he's never made much of an impression. While none of his books struck me as particularly memorable, I enjoyed reading them. Still, I felt some trepidation when I began LIFE IS BUT A DREAM. Mental illness is not well understood and stories are one way to spread knowledge and empathy.

It is extremely common to hear tales about how people with schizophrenia, manic depression, or other illnesses are more creative when they don't take their medication. Tha
...more
Giselle (Book Nerd Canada)
Sabrina has always had an active imagination, and as an artist she would constantly draw pictures of everything she could dream of. Her parents concerned with her well-being place her in a wellness center where she meets Alec. He's not sick like Sabrina, but has more psychological problems. Sabrina on the other hand suffers from Schizophrenia and has paranoid delusions of everyone and everything. Her dreams mesh into reality making her even more unstable because she can't distinguish dreams from ...more
Juhina
Mar 18, 2012 Juhina rated it liked it
Life is but a dream was definitely a foreign and interesting journey! Getting to see how a schizophrenic person thinks and what really goes inside their mind fascinated me. All that paranoia, the voices, the feeling as if Sabrina, the protagonist is watching a different channel or listening to a different radio station from the rest of the world, as if the whole book is set in her mind. At the beginning, Sabrina lived in her own little colorful world, but as the days passed while she was in the ...more
Amanda
5 stars.
"I'm not crazy. At least...I don't think I am, anyway."

Life is But a Dream is beautiful tale about Sabrina, an artist diagnosed with schizophrenia. She has always been seen as special. Before, it was in the way where she was delicate and rare. Now it is because she is sick. Her parents check her into the Wellness Center. Just as she is getting better, she meets Alec, the boy from her dreams, and he tells her it's the world that's crazy, not them. She believes him wholeheartedly, stops ta
...more
Savannah (Books With Bite)
Mar 14, 2012 Savannah (Books With Bite) rated it really liked it
WOW! This is another "its so crazy its brilliant" type of book. I wasn't sure what I was expecting. I just knew this book intrigued from the synopsis and knew I wanted to read it.

This book. It's crazy!!! I really loved it. What I like most about this book is the great character Sabrina. There is a reason I love to read. I love to read to be able to get into another person's mind. And being in Sabrina's mind really made me wonder. I love that my imagination ran rapid in this book. To see things t
...more
Misty Baker
May 24, 2012 Misty Baker rated it really liked it
I have to be honest and say that I’m not quite sure how to go about writing this review. Under normal circumstances I have an “absolute” feeling when finishing a book. I know what I’m going to say about it and I know how I’m going to rate it. Neither can be said when it comes to “Life is But a Dream.”

On one hand it was a spectacularly written example of schizophrenia and how it not only effects the person who has it, but the people surrounding it. In the other, you have a novel that is so full o
...more
Kalyn Schwartz
Mar 22, 2013 Kalyn Schwartz rated it really liked it
This book is about someone sent to a mental institute just because she's different than anyone else. Throughout the story there were many different twists and turns. It made me want to keep reading more. The detail was good and I felt it wasn't too repetitive. I recommend this book to teenagers, especially the ones who think they're in love. This book puts a whole new spin on love and proves that things are not always what they seem to be. I enjoyed this book because it kept me interested and ma ...more
Kate
Nov 30, 2011 Kate rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2011, arc
I ended up liking this book so much more than I thought I would! Not that it's a happy, hug a puppy kind of read. It's pretty dark since it deals with mental illness, but James does a fantastic job pulling you into Sabrina's mind and explaining her world. I was really impressed with his portrayal of a teenage girl dealing with schizophrenia.
Kara
Jan 28, 2014 Kara added it
This book is definitely not for everyone. It took a little bit of time to get into it but I really enjoyed it. I'm a teacher of students with emotional disabilities, so this hit very close to home. It was a very emotional look into what my students could be dealing with.
Victoria Scott
Loved the concept. It's like you're inside the head of someone suffering from a mental heath problem. A beautiful story and a quick read. I'd read it again and recommend it to anyone.
Louisa
Jan 18, 2012 Louisa rated it it was amazing
Really great book, a bit sad, but so good! Loved the way she saw the world, and how considerate she was, and yeah, it was just great!
Amanda Taylor
Aug 14, 2013 Amanda Taylor rated it really liked it
An enjoyable read. I had to push myself to finish it as I got a little bored but still enjoyable.
Annie
Jan 22, 2016 Annie rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Teen readers
Recommended to Annie by: Goodreads
This book wasn't exactly what I expected it to be, but it still earned 5 stars for sure. Part of the reason I adore it so much is because it really spoke to me; in some ways I could see a lot of myself in Sabrina. I could see myself in her in the way that she had her own little world that she liked to escape into; "I don't care I say to my parents I like the world in my dreams, it's a happier place here." The line "Puberty flicked a switch in side of them and dreams were replaced by hormones and ...more
Becky Keir Grace
Sabrina is a teenager with schizophrenia. Her parents decide it is time for her to go into a hospital for help with her illness. I am never read a book from the perspective of a schizophrenic before, but this one certainly opened my eyes to the mental disorder. I loved how the author told us the story through Sabrina in the first person. Her world is a combination of beauty and terror. As an artist I can only imagine what the world looked like to her. It sounded simply beautiful. However, Sabrin ...more
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I've written numerous children's books, including the Pirate School series and the Catkid series. I'm also the author of several novels: Pure Sunshine; Tomorrow, Maybe; Perfect World; Dirty Liar; Thief; Zombie Blondes; The Heights.

More about Brian James...

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“My memories are like a shuffled deck of cards, each one coming up at random.” 27 likes
“Because there’s nothing wrong with me,” Alec says. “You know what is? Our society is so screwed up from top to bottom, everything about it, that it’s become impossible to fix. It’s easier to change people and make them fit into something that’s broken. Know what I mean?” 17 likes
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