I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters
Published by Abrams on October 14th 2014
Genres: Young Adult, Historical, United States, 19th Century, Fantasy & Magic, Girls & Women
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Olivia Mead is a headstrong, independent girl—a suffragist—in an age that prefers its girls to be docile. It’s 1900 in Oregon, and Olivia’s father, concerned that she’s headed for trouble, convinces a stage mesmerist to try to hypnotize the rebellion out of her. But the hypnotist, an intriguing young man named Henri Reverie, gives her a terrible gift instead: she’s able to see people’s true natures, manifesting as visions of darkness and goodness, while also unable to speak her true thoughts out loud. These supernatural challenges only make Olivia more determined to speak her mind, and so she’s drawn into a dangerous relationship with the hypnotist and his mysterious motives, all while secretly fighting for the rights of women. Winters breathes new life into history once again with an atmospheric, vividly real story, including archival photos and art from the period throughout.
Praise for The Cure for Dreaming "A smattering of period photos adds authenticity to this gripping, atmospheric story of mind control and self-determination." --Kirkus Reviews
I am solidly a fan of Cat Winters. She writes excellent young adult historical novels featuring young women with so much temerity and passion. Whether she’s writing about the Spanish Influenza or women’s suffrage, Cat Winters is an author to watch for. The Cure For Dreaming is one such book that you should have on your radar if the women’s rights movement is of interest for you. I mean, what is not to love about feminists from the 1900s fighting for the vote? Answer: NOTHING. Winters weaves a story that is alternately infuriating and inspiring.
Olivia Meade is a young suffragist. The Cure For Dreaming opens with it being Olivia’s birthday. She goes with her friends to a hypnotist show. There, she happens to be chosen as a volunteer and is hypnotized by Henri Reverie. She manages to catch the attention of a boy named Percy which is exciting for Olivia because he’s really good looking and above her station. However, he does not support suffrage. A photograph of Olivia under hypnotization is printed in the paper. Olivia attends a suffrage rally and her father, a dentist, finds out and hits the roof. So, he decides something has to be done about Olivia’s rebellious and unladylike behavior. He hires Henri to hypnotize Olivia into good behavior and whenever she feels disagreeable, she must say all is well.
Olivia is totally my sister suffragette comrade in arms. To say I liked her character in Cat Winters’s The Cure For Dreaming would be an understatement. The situation she lives is not the most ideal – her mom was a stage actress who was essentially knocked up by her dad who is super conservative and believes women should stay home pretty much. So, her mother runs away to New York City leaving her father with issues, to say the least. Olivia is left dealing with the fallout. She believes women deserve the right to vote and she desires nothing more than a pair of bicycle bloomers. Olivia is the sort of character who is courageous. She speaks out against the injustice of not having the ability to vote. She even finds a way around the hypnotism to voice her opinion. It is so satisfying seeing her character be creative and speak to the equality of women.
So you might be under the impression that the romance in The Cure For Dreaming is between Percy and Olivia and you would be wrong. After all, Olivia does get a warning about Percy and his grabby hands from her best friend forever, Fannie, whose parents own the bookstore. Fannie is awesome – FYI. Anyways. Olivia hunts down Henri after he hypnotizes her again and asks that he change her back. From there, it is like a series of meetings but not quite dates or anything. There isn’t even a ton of kissing. This is totally fine though. There is a chemistry between Olivia and the hypnotist that is worth reading and rooting for. Let’s just say Cat Winters brings heat to her writing without including um, grown up activities.
I found the use of hypnotism in Cat Winter’s The Cure For Dreaming to be fascinating. I did not think people could be so susceptible so quickly to hypnotism. Also, points for creativity when it comes to taming wild women, I guess. Olivia goes into these hypnotic trances because they relax her so much. It is probably because she carries a lot of stress due to being politically at odds with her overbearing father. I thought it was neat seeing how the two – Henri and Olivia- try to circumvent the nefarious plans of Olivia’s father. There’s this way that Henri hypnotizes Olivia so that she sees the world as it is and there’s this supernatural element as Olivia sees people as monsters – partially due to her obsession with reading Dracula. I thought this was a cool element to add in.
Aside from hypnotism, I just have to say that I loved the women’s suffrage theme. I think that sometimes we take the right to vote for granted – considering how many blood, sweat and tears went into gaining the right to vote – especially for women. So, I loved that this book recognizes that, even if it is not the main thrust and theme of the book. There’s this great scene in The Cure For Dreaming that likens not being able to vote to being silenced. It’s interesting too how some of the men in this book want to maintain power and control over females, yet fail to recognize just how much women do. This is a theme that did frustrate me a little bit – seeing how unwilling to bend Olivia’s father was. He just wants her to be docile and tame and not opinionated but obedient. I am not about that noise at all, so of course the blood will boil – which I think is a good reaction to have at these moments.
Really, I think that The Cure For Dreaming makes fantastic use of images from the suffragette movement. In addition, it is immensely satisfying with characters that you legitimately care about and feel this righteous anger on behalf of. Highly recommended to my fellow feminists in arms.