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The Dream Weaver

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Twelve-year-old Zoey comes from a family of dreamers. From startup companies to selling motorcycles, her dad is constantly chasing jobs that never seem to work out. As for Zoey, she’s willing to go along with whatever grand plans her dad dreams up—even if it means never staying in one place long enough to make real friends. Her family being together is all that matters to her.

So Zoey’s world is turned upside down when Dad announces that he’s heading to a new job in New York City without her. Instead, Zoey and her older brother José will stay with their Poppy at the Jersey Shore. At first, Zoey feels as lost and alone as she did after her Mami died. But soon she’s distracted by an even bigger problem: the bowling alley that Poppy has owned for decades is in danger of closing!

After befriending a group of kids practicing for a summer bowling tournament, Zoey hatches a grand plan of her own to save the bowling alley. It seems like she’s found the perfect way to weave everyone’s dreams together…until unexpected events turn Zoey’s plan into one giant nightmare.

Now, with her new friends counting on her and her family’s happiness hanging in the balance, Zoey will have to decide what her dream is—and how hard she’s willing to fight for it.

First published May 26, 2020

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About the author

Reina Luz Alegre

1 book8 followers

Reina Luz Alegre is the author of middle grade novel THE DREAM WEAVER, a Junior Library Guild Selection, out now from Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. When she’s not writing, Reina enjoys baking shows, romcoms and singing along with the radio. Reina lives in Florida with her family. For more information, check out www.reinaluzalegre.com.


"A heartfelt debut novel rooted in the importance of family ties, the bonds of friendship, and bowling." -- KIRKUS REVIEWS

"A charming debut about grief, the bonds of family and friendship, and bowling." -- BOOKLIST

"Alegre has written a warm, funny, empowering book that’s sure to appeal to fans of Meg Medina’s Merci Suarez Changes Gears or Pablo Cartaya’s The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora. Recommended for all collections." -- SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL

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5 stars
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77 (46%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 44 reviews
Profile Image for Darla.
3,150 reviews446 followers
June 12, 2020
Bowling with my family is a privilege that has not been available during the COVID-19 quarantine. That fact makes this book even more precious. Zoey's grandfather owns a historic bowling alley on the Jersey Shore. In this new middle grade novel, she fights to keep that bowling alley open while discovering her bowling skills and making new friends. What is a dream? What should we be willing to sacrifice for our dream? Can we follow the wrong dream and miss the right one? Explore these dilemmas with Zoey and enjoy this new summer read.

Thank you to Simon & Schuster and NetGalley for a DRC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Andrea Beatriz Arango.
Author 5 books77 followers
June 14, 2020
This wholesome cinnamon roll of a book is exactly what I needed to help me out of my corona reading slump. I read it all in one day and I will 100% read anything else this author writes from here on out. So if you like middle grade books with Latinx rep, sweet friendships, turbulent family dynamics & grief (handled age appropriately), and nostalgic bowling alleys, pre-order now!
Profile Image for jocelyn.
431 reviews249 followers
December 4, 2020
A charming middle grade contemporary with complicated family relationships, strong female friendships, and bowling! Reina nails both the internal crises of not feeling "Cuban enough" and the difficulties navigating a new place and making new friends. Watching Zoey grow throughout this novel is such a joy.
Profile Image for Liza Wiemer.
Author 5 books655 followers
July 5, 2020
I loved this book so much. Reina shows the complexity of family in a outstanding novel that punctuates what it means to embrace your dreams and make them happen. The novels shows failures, successes and what it takes to persevere despite challenging obstacles. It's messy, painful, hurtful, beautiful, compassionate, and loving. Friendship is an important theme, and I was deeply touched by how Reina handled hurtful situations, resolving them in a positive way—middle grade students REALLY need this!!!

All the secondary characters were really well done, but I adored Isa Levine! What a sweetheart:)
I have more to say, but not enough time at this moment so...

FRTC, but definitely add this to your TBR list!
Profile Image for Sofia (Bookish Wanderess).
857 reviews593 followers
September 23, 2020
A very sweet middle grade that deals with hard subjects like grief and complicated family dynamics. Despite all that, this book tells such a hopeful and happy story about giving yourself time to figure out your dreams, fighting for them but also allowing them to change with time. One of the strengths of this book is the discussion of now feeling Latinx enough thanks to not speaking the language, not eating the "right" food all the time, and other things like that. This book includes a bowling team, sleepovers, friendships, a strong sibling relationship, and a lovable grandfather.
Profile Image for Alexandra Alessandri.
Author 5 books76 followers
June 15, 2020
My son (12yo) devoured THE DREAM WEAVER and absolutely loved it! He loved everything about it, from the characters to the story to the name of the bowling alley. He's also already asking if there's a book 2!

I went in expecting an amazing read, and Alegre's THE DREAM WEAVER absolutely exceeded my expectations. In the book hangover that followed after I reached the end, I found myself incoherently repeating I LOVE THIS BOOK! It's the type of story that sticks with you and begs to be reread.

I'm a sucker for family stories, as well as those about finding one's identity, and this sweet, heartfelt MG delivered these themes beautifully. The scenes between Zoey and her grandfather were some of my favorite, though the scenes with her new friends were also wonderful. Zoey is a wonderfully fleshed out character you can't help but root for from the opening pages. This story is sure to resonate with readers!

Note: Thank you to the author and publisher for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Anika.
Author 9 books56 followers
May 27, 2020
I read this aloud to my daughter and we laughed a lot! I loved the Latinx rep that was both part of the story but also simply part of the characters. Great summer read!
Profile Image for Scgoff.
157 reviews
November 2, 2021
This book was really fun! I loved the infusion of Cuban culture and Spanish words included throughout- I’ve been really in to the entire Latin culture this year and this book hit the spot!
Profile Image for Mary Louise Sanchez.
Author 1 book20 followers
August 28, 2020
Zoey's dad has yet another dream of getting a better job in New York City this time. Her older brother Jose's dream of going to college to study engineering is closer, but her Cuban refugee grandfather's dream of continuing to run a successful bowling alley on the Jersey shore is falling apart because he can longer care for the business. Zoey decides to help her grandfather get his dream back by enlisting the help of new friends she's met who are on a bowling team, rather than to go with her dad and pursue his dream. In the process, Zoey starts to weave her own dreams, even as a young girl, and learns that dreams mean different things to different people.

Profile Image for Catfairy Books.
97 reviews31 followers
June 27, 2020
The Dream Weaver was literally a ray of sunshine. It reminded me of being back in middle school again and the awkwardness of making new friends and having new experiences. This is the kind of book that is enthused with hope and brings you back to that time where life has endless opportunities.

Zoey is spending the summer in the Jersey Shore and she is filled with worry because her brother is going away to college. And to top it all off, her dad is leaving the family for yet another one of his many dreams and she finds out her grandpa's bowling alley is in danger of closing. Along with her new friends, they figure out how to save the bowling alley and have the best summer of all.

After reading this book, it filled me with happiness and it reminded me that it's important to never lose that spark inside of us that believes the best in people. The Dream Weaver is like a warm blanket that will remind you that dreams are still possible no matter how scary the world gets.
Profile Image for Christina.
171 reviews4 followers
March 23, 2020
Bowling alleys have such a distinct sound, atmosphere, (and to me, a smell—is that weird?) and I was delighted to have had the chance to step foot into Gonzo’s on the boardwalk. A middle grade debut, THE DREAM WEAVER (releasing May 26th), readers spend an eventful summer at the Jersey Shore with Cuban American Zoey and her family after yet, another move to live with her grandfather who owns the bowling alley. It’s a time when kind, thoughtful, and sensitive Zoey experiences a few firsts—from getting her period to making real friends—while missing her mom and trying to accept that her big brother will be leaving for Florida to attend college in the fall. When her dad leaves for NY without her, Zoey reflects on the past and begins to focus on what she wants her future to look like. I just adored Zoey’s candid, inquisitive voice as she searched for the courage to speak up and follow her own dreams. Her relationship with her grandfather is so precious and beautiful memories were shared and made. I also liked how each member of the bowling team had additional passions and were so relatable. THE DREAM WEAVER is a wonderfully layered story that strikes the right balance of change, hope, friendship, and family.
Profile Image for Sierra Dertinger.
96 reviews8 followers
July 4, 2021
Twelve-year-old Zoey has been living with her dreamer father and soon-to-be college brother, José. Her Mami passed away at a few years ago due to a heart attack. So having any kind of girl around has been non-existent. Her father is a dreamer because he is constantly tackling new opportunities and chasing jobs that don't really turn in his favor. Her brother is chasing his dream too of becoming an engineer and going to college. Meanwhile, Zoey, she isn't sure what her dream is at the moment. They move often because of Zoey's dad always finding a new job, but they are in California living with her Poppy who is also a dreamer—he still own's his own bowling alley.

Well, everything changes when her dad announces that he has a new job and it's across the United States in New York City... This makes Zoey feel strange because yes, she is excited for him, but she also doesn't want him to leave her alone and she doesn't want to move. She is finally making friends that are GIRLS and she is starting to feel like this could be home. While her dad leaves for his new motorcycle dealership job, Zoey underestimates that hard work that it will take to help her Poppy. Her Poppy has less than a week until his bowling alley will be foreclosed. He is behind on the mortgage and he is giving up. Luckily, Zoey creates a huge plan to help save the bowling alley with her friends who are on a bowling league. There are many ups-and-downs, but Zoey is determined to fight for her Poppy, and for herself, especially when her dad wants her to move again.

Such a heartfelt story about a girl who comes to the realization that she is indeed confident, she can be who she wants to be, so many people genuinely care about her, she can have more than one dream at a time, & everything is going to be okay.
Profile Image for Kathie.
Author 2 books61 followers
March 3, 2020
Thank you to Edelweiss+ and the publisher for an eARC of this book.

This middle grade debut by Reina Luz Alegre is a story that deals with everything from first periods, supportive older brothers, chasing dreams, Cuban heritage, and BOWLING. It releases on May 26th, and is a great book to add to your summer reading list.

Zoey and her brother, Jose, have spent most of their time since their mother died following their dad's dreams from one place to the next. When they finally end up with their grandfather, Poppy, the summer before Jose heads off to university, their dad decides to leave them there while he heads off to New York for another job. Zoey is upset, but soon realizes that her Poppy needs help to keep his dream, their family bowling alive, from bankruptcy. Zoey joins the local bowling team, makes some new friends, and finally starts to feel like she belongs somewhere...until everything is in jeopardy.

I absolutely loved that this story starts out with Zoey getting her first period while out shopping, and her brother and a stranger helping to walk her through it. Zoey's relationships with her dad, her brother, and Poppy are all changing in different ways, and her new relationships with her bowling team support her while she goes through these changes. She learns that she is entitled to her own dreams, but she's also enough just the way she is.
Profile Image for Tonja Drecker.
Author 3 books174 followers
June 10, 2021
This is a read with tons of heart, which puts family, friends and dreams at the center and demonstrates that fighting for something is a magic all on its own.

Zoey has moved around. A lot. Her father constantly tries to achieve his latest dream, and while Zoey does find this neat, it's also take a toll on her and her older brother. While staying at Poppy's, she finally meets someone who might be a real friend, but there are other problems already mounting, especially on the financial end. Add her brother's up-coming college years and her father's latest dream chase, and her job to hold everyone together might just become impossible after all.

There are so many good things about this book. Zoey is, firstly, a girl with tons of energy and heart. Despite her difficult past (loss of mother and constant moves), she's got both feet on the ground, has a very good grip on people, and sees what needs to be done. But, of course, she makes mistakes. She's definitely a character to love and root for. Then, there's the setting of beaches and bowling, which already lure in. Zoey's family is golden, too. Each one has a loving personalities and their rough spots. They fight, and yet, keep the bonds...even though the one with the father is strained. It's a lovely mix and well done.

I'd place this one for upper middle graders more, thanks to some of the interactions and scenes. The book begins with Zoey starting her period, which I'm not a fan of, especially since it's presented a little overly dramatic (like so often lately in middle grade books) and just adds to girl's tensions unnecessarily. But that's just me. Also, I sometimes Zoey 's friends acted older than their age. But the book definitely stayed, otherwise, in the middle grade realm.

This is a lovely read for anyone who enjoys realistic moments, great settings, and a girl with heart and determination. There's a lot of warmth and family in these pages, and it definitely makes a lovely, summer read. I received an ARC from the publisher and loved the characters in this one.
Profile Image for Lauren.
57 reviews
May 31, 2020
The Dream Weaver by Reina Luz Alegre is an uplifting story about finding your voice and fighting for your dreams. The novel’s greatest strength is the author’s ability to capture imperfection. There is no such thing as perfect, after all. The characters’ faults and flaws, the complexity of their conflicts, and an ending messy but realistic makes for a heartwarming, endearing portrayal of life. On the other hand, the plot’s pacing is slow at times with many conversations about fashion crowding out opportunities to add depth to the characters and their experiences. At times, the author’s descriptive language also feels forced, and the stilted narration breaks the story’s natural flow. While these issues are not so significant as to detract from what can be learned in reading Zoey’s story overall, they do render its telling less compelling.

The Dream Weaver is the perfect summer read for middle grades readers. Reina Luz Alegre incorporates classic tween and teen themes in a unique and refreshing way. For teachers searching for a summer assignment, The Dream Weaver is it. Not only does the novel have opportunities for analysis, it also includes the potential for a cross-curricular study on the science of bowling. A fun field trip to close out a fun read!

Thank you to Edelweiss+ and publisher, Simon & Schuster, for an eARC of this book!
Profile Image for Margaret.
2,487 reviews
June 21, 2020
Twelve-year-old Zoey is a thread forged of love, bound in hope, holding together generations of men. Her late mother’s father, her beloved Poppy, her dad and her older brother, Jose, each with their own realized, failed and yet to be grasped dreams, are about to discover the power of a committed young woman, one with a heritage of being a dream weaver, like her Abuela and Mami.

This summer is going to be different; this summer is where weaving others’ dreams help her to find her own dream. It’s a summer of saving and rebuilding. It’s a summer of true friendship forged on shared beliefs.

In this debut MG novel, The Dream Weaver, by Reina Luz Alegre readers through finely wrought conversations replete with the musicality of shared languages, thoughts and narrative step into the world of a family struggling with the loss of wives, a grandmother and mother. We move into Zoey’s world, experiencing her very real struggles, and cheering her hard-won triumphs. Momentum grows toward an exciting and satisfying conclusion. Thank you Reina Luz Alegre for introducing readers to Zoey, her familia and her friends.
Profile Image for Wina.
686 reviews
August 25, 2021
Coming of age story for ages 10-13, this book is more for girls, because the main character, Zoey, is struggling to figure out how to have a better fashion sense, doesn't feel attractive, and she gets her first period at the beginning of the book. I really liked that chapter. This book has good characters, some Cuban heritage and Spanish words (nearly always translated immediately), deals with grief, family relationships, and making new friends. I love her older brother. I do have a critique--the children were often too wise and grown-up. Tyler is so helpful to Zoey, and even winks at her once, and a 6th grade boy would never wink reassuringly. They do act like kids and have worries and insecurities, too, but are often mature beyond their years. However, I'm giving it 4 stars anyway, because I couldn't wait to find out what happened next, I really cared, and the happy, predictable ending is just what felt safe, comforting, and satisfying. I'm sure young people deserve that when they read a book!
Profile Image for Catfairy Books.
97 reviews31 followers
June 17, 2020
The Dream Weaver was literally a ray of sunshine. It reminded me of being back in middle school again and the awkwardness of making new friends and having new experiences. This is the kind of book that is enthused with hope and brings you back to that time where life has endless opportunities.

Zoey is spending the summer and the Jersey Shore and she is filled with worry because her brother is going away to college. And to top it all off, her dad is leaving the family for yet another one of his many dreams and she finds out her grandpa's bowling alley is in danger of closing. Along with her new friends, they figure out how to save the bowling alley and have the best summer of all.

After reading this book, it filled me with happiness and it reminded me that it's important to never lose that spark inside of us that believes the best in people. The Dream Weaver is like a warm blanket that will remind you that dreams are still possible no matter how scary the world gets.
Profile Image for Almira.
544 reviews2 followers
November 13, 2021
Zoey's life has been made complicated by the fact that after her mother's death, her father is unable to maintain a permanent place of residence for her brother, Jose, herself and her father.
Moving about has taken its toll on never really having any friends or sense of self.

This time, her father has "moved" them to live with her mother's father, Zoey hopes with all her heart that this will be the last time they are uprooted. Poppy, her grandfather, owns a "run-down" bowling alley along the Jersey Shore - at one time the "crown" of bowling alleys in the area.

Zoey is unhappy with Jose, as he plans to leave in the fall to attend university in Florida, one more loss she is afraid will change their brother/sister relationship. But they still have the summer, and with it the chance to meet new people, form friendships, and quite possibly assist Poppy in restoring the bowling alley to its former glory........
Profile Image for Dontreadlikethem .
97 reviews1 follower
July 15, 2020
Where's the nearest bowling alley? If you're like me that question will be on your mind as well after finishing this book. Zoey has just moved to Jersey which is nothing new to her since moving constantly is the only consistent thing in her life. That along with her focused brother and her dad who changes jobs like underwear. This move is different though since her brother will be headed to college at the end of summer and their new house is really her grandfather's house. Zoey has to deal with making new friends, holding on to her culture since her Cuban mother has passed away, save her grandfather's bowling alley, learn to let go of her brother, all while being stuck between someone who refuses to give up their dream and someone who can't stick to one dream. Zoey is so relatable and down to earth kids will love reading about her. Children ages 12 and up.
Profile Image for Anne.
4,351 reviews41 followers
January 25, 2021
Zoey lives with her dad and older brother José. They have always moved a lot chasing her dad's dreams. However, ever since her mom died, they have been moving even more. But for the moment they are living with Poppy, her mom's dad, in New Jersey. Poppy owns a bowling alley and it holds lots of memories for Zoey. But as Poppy has gotten older, so has the bowling alley and it's pretty run down; it is losing money and hardly anyone goes there anymore. Zoey is determined to do whatever it takes to save the bowling alley. She also wants to stop moving all the time and she is sad because José will be going off to college in the fall.

This is a really touching story about family and friendship. Zoey is required to think about things like forgiveness, grieving, and looking at things from other people's perspectives. This was a very well-written debut novel.
Profile Image for Skip.
3,226 reviews394 followers
December 7, 2021
Fly me high through the starry skies
Maybe to an astral plane
Cross the highways of fantasy
Help me to forget today's pain
-- Gary Wright

12-year old Zoey is on the Jersey Shore in the summer with her older brother and grandfather when her father announces he has found another job in NY City selling motorcycles, but will bring her as soon as he gets settled. The family is all suffering the loss of Zoey's mother. The grandfather owns a failing bowling alley, which is facing bankruptcy, but he refuses to sell to a condo developer. Zoey is excited as she makes some new friends, and joins their bowling team, but is deeply worried about her brother leaving for college in the fall, that her father won't respond to her texts, and decides to try to save the bowling alley. 3.5 stars.
Profile Image for Shari.
432 reviews13 followers
May 31, 2020
THE DREAM WEAVER is a perfect feel-good story for middle grade readers. A team of young bowlers tries to win a championship and save a historic bowling alley - this makes a fun story, but what really gives this book heart is Zoey, who has been bounced around her whole life, chasing her father’s dreams - or running from his grief? Her older brother is getting ready to leave for college, so making a home with Poppy and helping him save his bowling alley seems the perfect chance for Zoey to finally put down roots, find friends, and discover her own dreams. This is a story about feeling out of place, that awkwardness of adolescence, while finding your courage and your voice. Zoey is a character that many kids will relate to as she learns how to have real friendships, ask for help, try new things, and stand up to the family she loves.
234 reviews12 followers
December 24, 2020
This books was a delight to read. I genuinely enjoyed spending time with the characters. With complicated relationships and painful pasts, their layers were complex, while their present and future are bright as they learn to be honest, fight for their dreams, and support each other. 12 year old Zoey works through many conflicts as she misses her mother, worries about her brother leaving for college, stands up to her father who is always moving them across the country on a whim, and works to motivate her grandfather to save the bowling alley their family has run for a generation. Along the way, she gains a bowling team of supportive friends and a confidence in who she is. The Dream Weavers truly weaves together a cast of dreamers that I enjoyed getting to know. #LitReviewCrew
Profile Image for Great Books.
2,923 reviews54 followers
July 10, 2020
Zoey's father has always been the big dreamer of the family, flitting from one half finished dream to the next. His next new venture is to work in a motorcycle shop in New York City, as he is getting set up, Zoey and her older brother are spending their summer with her grandfather at the Jersey Shore. Zoey feels abandoned. Zoey is determined to make a permanent place for herself, by helping her grandfather's crumbling bowling alley stay in business. Zoey is going to need all of her determination and the new friends she has made to have any chance of saving her grandfather's bowling alley.

Reviewer 21
1,495 reviews5 followers
July 12, 2020
A delightful novel about family, friendship and BOWLING! Yes, that’s right, bowling Zoey and her brother have been following their dad from place to place as he gives up on anything he tries. New she and Jose are living with the Cuban-American grandfather on the Jersey shore, as he tries to keep his bowling alley going. Through bowling, Zoey makes some good friends and helps her grandfather as well.
Profile Image for Julie.
675 reviews15 followers
July 16, 2020
With thanks to NetGalley for a copy in return for an honest review.

A delightful story that brought me back to summers spent at the Jersey Shore! Zoey, a pre-teen Cuban American, goes to live with her Poppy for the summer while her dad heads off to NYC to chase another dream. Zoey discovers bowling (I love that this book helps kids see the joy of bowling!) and as she navigates family and friendships, she discovers what it means to find, and pursue, your dreams.
Profile Image for Reina Alegre.
Author 1 book8 followers
April 29, 2020
Hello! It’s my book! I wrote it! And I’ve seen other authors shamelessly rate themselves so I’m giving myself a five too lol 😂

But in all seriousness, I did try to put a lot of humor and heart into this sweet MG story, and I hope readers enjoy it!
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