The Book of Dreams
by Nina George
When Henri ends up in a coma after rescuing a young girl from the Thames, his ex-girlfriend, Eddie, discovers that she is listed as Henri’s next-of-kin in his living will. While Henri lies in a hospital bed, he fitfully revisits the boyhood he spent with his beloved grandfather, who fed him a steady diet of Breton fish and fairy tales.
Meanwhile, Sam, Henri’s sensitive teenage son with whom Henri never had a relationship–Henri was in love with his mother, but too afraid of love to make the relationship work–has never seen his father alive, other than in Henri’s reportages or the video of him heroically saving a girl from drowning. Yet, Sam has a more profound connection with his father than most children of his age. Sam and Eddie, each previously unaware of the other, slowly begin to carve out an unexpected and powerful friendship. But when Sam is on his way to meet his father for the first time, tragedy strikes.
Full of rich, captivating characters, and in placing the serious questions of life and death alongside a wonderful and engrossing story, The Book of Dreams asks with grace and gravitas what we will truly find meaningful in our lives after we are gone.
I didn’t know what I was getting into when I started reading The Book of Dreams, I did have a rough idea of course but beyond that I wasn’t quite sure whether I will like it or not. I was really intrigued by the synopsis and I am glad that it did turn out to be quite a good book. It might not top my favourites list but it could have become a strong contender.
This was my first time reading Nina George and I was so pleasantly surprised by the writing. There’s the relationships between the characters, it’s emotional and every character’s struggle is real and heartbreaking but at the same time, there’s such a warmth to it.
Henri Skinner was on the way to meet with his estranged son when he’s met with an accident after saving a little girl. Sam, his estranged son, tries to visit Henri whenever he can despite multiple warnings from his mum not to.
While in coma, Henri is dreaming of his past and the secrets he’s had to keep. Then there’s Eddie Tomlin who never really stopped loving Henri, her struggle with the fact still keeps her up at night and it is a bit painful to read, if I am being honest.
Sam, Henri’s son, has synaesthesia, he can sense things others cannot. He finds himself connecting to another comatose patient, a twelve years old girl Madelyn. Madelyn has survived an accident that killed all of her family.
I loved the fact that despite being comatose, I could really see the characters, their hopes and dreams and their struggle to continue to live. Sam was a really good pov for me because he really made me interested in the lives of others whereas I wish I could say the same about others.
If there was something that made this into a less than 4 stars read, it was that. The writing was lyrical and meaningful, the characters (especially Sam and Henri) felt real but I wish I could find all of them equally wonderful. I couldn’t connect to Eddie, even though I felt for her, I didn’t really feel for her. So, there’s that.
Overall, I just wish I could have connected more with characters because this one had all the makings of a memorable book. However for now, it stands at 3.5 stars. If you like books that tell you the difference between existing and living, if you like books where your heart feels heavy after reading it, then this is the book for you.