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In the Dream House

4.47  ·  Rating details ·  79,900 ratings  ·  11,969 reviews
For years Carmen Maria Machado has struggled to articulate her experiences in an abusive same-sex relationship. In this extraordinarily candid and radically inventive memoir, Machado tackles a dark and difficult subject with wit, inventiveness and an inquiring spirit, as she uses a series of narrative tropes—including classic horror themes—to create an entirely unique piec ...more
Hardcover, 251 pages
Published November 5th 2019 by Graywolf Press
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Kristen I would DEFINITELY recommend this to a dating-age young person. This is the perfect "what not to do" as young people learn how to love. There are bad …moreI would DEFINITELY recommend this to a dating-age young person. This is the perfect "what not to do" as young people learn how to love. There are bad words (mostly the f-word and the c-word in sexual connotations) but no outright violence or super sexy scenes. All the abuse is emotional.(less)
Alyssa Bartoshevich I'd say 16+ would be more appropriate. …moreI'd say 16+ would be more appropriate. (less)

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Average rating 4.47  · 
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 ·  79,900 ratings  ·  11,969 reviews

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chai ♡
Very few works of writing are more fraught, more difficult, than a memoir. It’s mental self-flagellation: the prying open of one’s life, the splitting of the past like a cracked egg, the choice to trap yourself in the mirrored halls of your own memory, the equivalent of digging a nail into an open sore.

Writers like Machado offer up their ability to communicate the inexpressible through language. But it isn’t an easy feat—“putting language to something for which you have no language.” Machado cou
Jun 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
With exacting, exquisite prose, Carmen Maria Machado writes about the complexities of abuse in queer relationships in her absolutely remarkable memoir In The Dream House. She deftly chronicles the wildness of succumbing to desire, the entrancing tenderness of loving and being loved, the fragility of hope, and the unspeakable horror when the woman you love is a monster beneath and on the surface of her skin. What makes this book truly exceptional is how Machado creates an archive where, shamefull ...more
Jan 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Machado uses her lyrical writing skills to articulate her experiences in an abusive same-sex relationship, a difficult subject that is not often discussed. The writing is lovely and haunting, taking the lens of speculative horror fiction to frame her real experience. She describes the complexities of being in an abusive relationship with the added layer of societal expectations for what a queer relationship should look like; these topics and emotions would definitely resonate with anyone who has ...more
Jul 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020-favorites
exquisite, cannot recommend highly enough.
Feb 28, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I am both sheltered and naive, hopefully a little less of each after reading this memoir. It took a short time for me to adjust to the format - some “chapters” as short as one sentence - but I was hooked from the start. Like Tara Westover’s “Educated,” this story evoked emotions across the spectrum of human feeling - for oneself and for others. I marvel at the strength of people like Ms. Machado, and I am grateful that she shared her life with us. She is a treasure.
i read most of this stone-faced, face unchanged even as i was recalling repressed traumas with needle-like stabs, even as my heart ached for carmen maria machado, even as the pained gorgeousness of the writing took my breath away.


and then i got to the part where things are allowed to be happy again. and i burst into tears.

this is a beautifully written, brilliant researched, painful and raw and horrific and wonderful nightmarish fairytale of a book. it's 5
Justin Tate
Nov 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
YES YES YES!!! A 1000x better than expected, and I expected nothing short of holy scripture.

Months earlier I stumbled upon the description and knew this book would be monumental. As early reviews crept in, my anticipation grew. I had my Kindle fully charged and stayed up until midnight so I could start reading the second it released. By 2am I was 30% done. A few marathon readings later, I reached the last page with breathless finality. The result? Monumental doesn't even begin to cover it.

The fu
Jenna ❤ ❀  ❤
You enjoy reading memoirs because you like to get a better understanding of people, how they think and feel, to learn different perspectives. You are lesbian and particularly enjoy memoirs by people in the LGBQT+ community. You see this memoir come out (ha ha!) about a lesbian relationship and you notice a lot of people really love it. You assume you will too. You read and read and you don't ever get inside the author's head or have any idea of what she thinks and feels. You don't because she ra ...more
Elle (ellexamines)
“I thought you died, but right now, I’m not sure you did.”

This is, genuinely, my favorite book I read in the entirety of 2020, and maybe one of my favorite books ever. Carmen Maria Machado’s memoir about a queer abusive relationship blends reality with media and its mirrors. It flurries between grandeur and media and the simple, the human, varies between detailed tales and hypothetical quandaries to tell the story of a relationship.

Everything is a metaphor and not. Homes are a metap
Skyler Autumn
Apr 09, 2020 rated it it was ok
2 Stars

I don't usually review books that are about a survivor recounting their journey because I believe these stories should be told whether writing is something you are gifted at or not. That's why I never rated Chanel Miller's Know My Name because although there were flaws in style and presentation who am I to tell a survivor that they didn't do their own story justice. That being said although abuse in queer relationships are stories that need to be told. The fact of the matter is Carmen
Dr. Appu Sasidharan
Apr 21, 2021 rated it it was amazing

This is a memoir written by Carmen Maria Machado about an abusive same-sex relationship. There are only very few memoirs discussing this topic. This is also not written in a regular, commonly followed manner. The dark, witty writing style wielding the narrative tropes will give you a unique reading experience.

Some of you might feel this book is an esoteric one, especially when reading the initial part of it. But soon, we will understand the genuine nature of what the author is trying to conv
chan ☆
Dec 31, 2021 added it
Shelves: 2021, nonfiction
this one is tough for me. i’m glad that this book exists and it’s one i could see myself recommending, but it’s not one that i particularly enjoyed. enjoyed isn’t a great word, but i’m lacking a better one.

i think a good way to say it is that i like what this book said but not the way it was told. the short vignettes, the lack of linear story telling, and the flowery prose did not work for me.
Jan 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020, recs
Contemplative and inventive, In the Dream House dispels the silence surrounding abusive queer relationships. In her debut memoir Machado recounts the violence she endured for years at the hands of her first girlfriend, a rail-thin, androgynous unnamed white woman who routinely invalidated and gaslighted her. Written in arresting prose the work unfolds in a series of terse, terrifying sections, each of which centers on a single trope, from the conceptual (‘Epiphany,’ ‘Memory,’ ‘Void’) to the gene ...more
luce (currently recovering from a hiatus)
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While I definitely admire Carmen Maria Machado for having not only the strength to tackle such a difficult subject matter but to do so by sharing her own personal experience with her readers, and part of me also can't help but to recognise that In the Dream House: A Memoir is one of the most innovative memoir I have ever read, I would be lying if I said (or wrote) that it was flawlessly executed. I'm definitely glad to see that many other reviewers are praising it
Lucy Dacus
Nov 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There is no readying yourself for this one. Carmen is a modern legend, case closed.
Nov 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020-releases
In the Dream House is a most unmemoir-like memoir. This account of Carmen Maria Machado’s years in an abusive same-sex relationship plays with form, blending elements of literary criticism, pop culture essays, folk tales and the shadowy worlds of her short fiction.

To tell this real-life story, Machado cleaves herself in two: the first-person, present-day “I” — settled, successful, safe — addresses the second-person, past “you”. This textual interplay between two Carmens affords more closene
Such a powerful memoir about a horrifying abusive relationship. In spare vignettes, Carmen Maria Machado documents the beginning, middle, and end of her relationship with an ex-girlfriend who threatened, humiliated, and tried to control her. I’m a sucker for short chapters and Machado writes them well here, describing the terror and confusion she felt at the hands of her ex-girlfriend with concise and exacting detail. With courageous honesty, she shares both the desire she felt for her ex-girlfr ...more
may ➹
getting my Halloween spooky fix with a reread of this because 1) nothing chills me more than how good Carmen Maria Machado’s writing is and 2) the scariest monsters are the real ones!


3/26/21: well that was absolutely brilliant

short review to come when I can gather my thoughts, though nothing will be able to sum up this masterpiece
Oct 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019-read, usa
Winner of the Lambda Award for LGBTQ Nonfiction 2020
In this intimate, formally experimental memoir, Machado recalls how she survived an abusive relationship, but gives her own experiences a wider context: As she illustrates by giving examples from real life, art and scientific texts, violence in lesbian relationships has rarely been acknowledged and discussed, thus rendering the victims almost invisible and making them even more vulnerable. With "In the Dream House", Machado wants to add to the
Jan 01, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2020, non-fiction
There is too much Iowa MFA in Machado’s writing, and ultimately the elaborate, intricate, inventive, convoluted prose takes away from her personal story, IMO.
Wow, this is a very powerful memoir about an abusive same-sex relationship. I listened to the audiobook for this, and this story was honestly felt like reading her diary - it was so raw and honest and devastating, plus the writing is absolutely gorgeous. I haven't read about abuse in a same-sex relationship before, so this book definitely shines a light on something very important.

But with quotes like this one, I was blown away by the writing: “A reminder to remember: just because the sharpness
Jan 10, 2022 rated it it was amazing
I listened to this as an audiobook and this is one of the most unique listening experience of a memoir I ever consumed. It's hard for me to explain, I was always aware that this was a memoir. But the way this was narrated and written made me feel like I was swept into a story that wasn't told on a way I'm used to. I needed no time to readjust when I picked it back up I completely fell back into the flow. This deals with an difficult topic however. Abuse can come in every format and in every rela ...more
Chelsea (chelseadolling reads)
This was absolutely incredible. Just, wow.
Kai Spellmeier
“Love cannot be won or lost; a relationship doesn't have a scoring system. We are partners, paired against the world. We cannot succeed if we are at odds with each other.”

People kept telling me, basically shouting at me (in the nicest way possible) to pick up this book and read it. They said it was outstanding. They were right. I read this book in under 24 hours because once I started, I was unable to stop thinking about it.

I don't tend to read memoirs and I've only developed an interest in nonf
What a hell of a memoir...I have never read anything like this in my life. This book tore me up. I mean I was sobbing in some sections, but it was such an important read and one I didn't even realize I needed. Trigger warnings for strong language, abuse, manipulation, homophobia, slight abuse of power dynamic from authority figure

I thought I had my top books of 2020 figured out, but then I was gifted this book by Bethany and this is definitely one of the best books that I put my hands on in 2020
It's pretty impressive when a book can manage to be in turns fiction, non-fiction, poetry, prose, self-help, and a novel fashioned more like a series of short stories than chapters, yet read as a coherently themed whole. I've never read anything quite like it, and as an ambitious and quirky style of writing that travels across many genres, it's really fascinating to read, even if you don't share the experience or sexual orientation of the author. While written to shed light on the vastly under-r ...more
Feb 08, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-stars
The writing was so beautiful and haunting and I can tell how much work and emotions were put into it. The book, the story, and the writing is so overwhelming that I’m finding myself unable to put my thoughts into words. This is a memoir about same sex abuse, a topic that I haven’t read about before and it was written in such a raw honest way. It describes what’s it like to be emotionally and verbally abused and how it’s hard when you don’t have any visible scars to show what you’ve been going th ...more
Jul 14, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sapphic
beautifully written and absolutely mesmerizing. i love carmen maria machado’s voice and the way she told not only her own story, but also gave witness to the abuse that can happen in queer relationships. though hard to read in some places, this memoir is an honest depiction of trauma, heartbreak, healing and love. it’s incredibly powerful and i will definitely be thinking about it for a long time.
Jun 23, 2022 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
She unbuckles her seat belt, and leans very close to your ear. "You're not allowed to write about this," she says. "Don't you ever write about this. Do you fucking understand me?"


3.5 stars // In the Dream House is one hell of a memoir, tracing the abuse Machado faced at the hands of her female lover. Its structure is unique, with each chapter being told through a different lens (e.g. The Dream House as "Murder Mystery", "Unreliable Narrator" or "Bildungsroman"); and whilst I don't think
Dec 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
fulfilling my 2020 goal to read (at least) one book each month that i bought in hardcover and put off reading long enough that it is now in paperback.

review to come!
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Carmen Maria Machado's debut short story collection, Her Body and Other Parties, was a finalist for the National Book Award, the Kirkus Prize, LA Times Book Prize Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction, the Dylan Thomas Prize, and the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction, and the winner of the Bard Fiction Prize, the National Book Critics Circle's John Leonard Prize, and the Crawford Awar ...more

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