Your smile was derisive and colder than the arctic. “Didn’t you guess? You’re not Dad’s favourite child, I am and Ariel is Jasmin’s fave.”
– northbynorth, The Dreamer (2015)
I originally started reviewing this book a few years ago when it was still being written. The Dreamer, originally Thirty Letters is a book written by a wonderful author under the username northbynorth on Wattpad. I was exposed to the author’s amazing quality of writing in a previous novel, Saving Elliot, a story that everyone should read. Saving Elliot superficially is a good-girl-saves-bad-boy story, but it’s much more than that; the author reminds us that even the good need help sometimes.
In my draft, I wrote a huge paragraph about how much I loved the cover’s aesthetic, but the cover has since changed, so I’ll skip over that.
The Dreamer is written in a series of letters addressed to the important people in the protagonist, Morgana’s, life. There are pros and cons to writing stories in this format, like reading between the lines and not having an author spoon-feed you everything through an omniscient outside narrator. For some, this is cumbersome because they can’t, or don’t want to find the links between characters, etc., while others love the adventure the letter format takes them on; it’s a mystery that maximizes the emotions and reactions at the end of each letter.
The story is Morgana’s self-reflecting piece, as she writes down the realizations she has made during her short life so far. In the beginning, each letter seems like they will be delivered to the person it’s addressed to, but Morgana explicitly states that the good and bad part about this letter is that the addressee will never see, read, nor understand what she is going through. At that point, I realized that these letters are not for the sake of creating a discussion, but it’s for Morgana’s sake – in this world, there’s no one who can fully empathize with Morgana, so she, through these letters, will be the friend and therapist that no one will be for her.
Superficially, Morgana comes off as a typical, whiny teenager who complains about how no one understands her. The sad thing is that her words are true – she doesn’t have anyone to confide in. Her mother may have been the one person she could’ve confided in when she was younger, but her mother’s gone. People from all parts of her life have effectively abandoned her since her mother’s passing, and the people who are supposed to love her are distant with her; none of them try to understand her, a stark contrast to Hucky.
Morgana’s letters reveal the raw feelings of loneliness and isolation she faces. Correction, we don’t know if she really needs their support, as she comes off as a mentally strong teenager who was forced to fend for herself. Nonetheless, it’s always nice to have people to lean on.
As an older sibling, I relate to Morgana’s isolation because at times, my family will ignore me for my brother. However, we can’t simply blame our parents because I believe that there’s an error within our DNA; we are unable to truly focus on more than one thing at any given moment. Ergo, anyone who claims to be able to multitask is a liar because you won’t do a good job. Think: rubbing your stomach with your left hand, while patting your head with the right.
Consequently, humans are unable to successfully maintain multiple human relationships at once. In many ways, we are similar to the simplest of animals, as we can only focus on one topic at hand at any given moment. There’s an imbalance between the demands of the society and the extent to our own capabilities. Studies have shown that despite parents’ verbal exclamations and refusals about having a favorite child, in the end of the day, parents do have a child that they prefer, and tend to look more favorably upon.
Is it unfair for the other children who aren’t the apple of their parents’ eyes? No. However, it is important for the child to communicate this feeling of hurt to their parents. On the parents end, especially parents who have grown up marginalized by their siblings, they should try to put themselves back into the shoes of their Morganas and think about how they can effectively translate affection to them. Especially during puberty, parents should be understanding because they’re gone through those rough years, and previous feelings of isolation are exacerbated during this period.
I wouldn’t call myself Morgana, but I have been in many situations where I felt like Morgana, but for me, it has helped me grow. Because I didn’t feel as much love and would feel jealous at the love my brother received, it helped me grow independent and less reliant on receiving external validation.
This, begs the question – is Morgana, and other quasi-abandoned children, the lucky one? After all, they seem more prepared in entering an unfair world where you aren’t the apple of somebody’s eyes. For me, I would say yes, though yes with reservations because not everyone put in that situation are mentally capable of handling such a feeling.
the girl who was Morgana, just like you were at one point as well