The Good Dream is a heartbreaker
Reviewed by Amanda Clark, BCPL adult programming supervisor
What happens when the old maid in a 1950 East Tennessee town is determined to save an abused child? She may become the one who gets saved. Donna VanLiere chronicles each step of the way for Ivorie Walker in her first full-length novel, “The Good Dream.”
The book starts rather slow, but I believe VanLiere designed it that way. Ivorie Walker is a thirty-something woman who is believed to be past the age of marriage. Society believes her life cannot possibly be complete unless she marries. Ivorie is not one to settle on convention and spends her days taking care of her parents and working at the school. Her life is steady.
VanLiere allows the reader to get comfortable in the daily routine of Ivorie’s life. Each day is much like the one before. After her parents’ deaths, Ivorie takes care of the house, the garden and her dog, day in and day out with very little variety. It is in those quiet times after her mother’s death that Ivorie worries there really isn’t anything left for her. Her loneliness is palpable. The monotony of Ivorie’s days is turned upside down when vegetables start to go missing from her garden. Eventually, she comes to realize she is not battling an animal for her produce, but a starving, unkempt little boy from the hills.
The Boy makes his debut in the novel without a name. He does not speak. His voice is heard in the novel in the chapters that he narrates. VanLiere crafted her novel in chapters of varying points of view. It is through these chapters that the reader learns of the terrible life that has befallen this little boy. His mother is dead. He is in the “care” of a man who abuses him severely. When Ivorie learns what life is like for this child, she decides to take him in and save him from what waits for him in the hills.
When Ivorie steps out of her comfort zone and takes on the responsibility of a little boy, she faces condemnation at every turn. She knows everyone is against her decision. At that time, women simply did not choose to “fix” a broken child and raise it on their own. She is the talk of the town. Her only support is that of her brother, Henry, and his wife, Loretta. In one scene, Henry defends his sister to a group of people discussing her in his store. “I know her well enough to know she’s reaching down into those places where courage and hope are melded together over a blazing fire and she’s stirring the pot.”
Ivorie doesn’t cave to those who criticize her. She knows she has an abundance of love to give and she will give it to the boy, Peter. Her life is complete with him, and, in him she has found everything she needed.
“The Good Dream” is a wonderful novel. I admire Ivorie’s courage in the face of controversy. I applaud her for giving Peter hope. If you decide to read this novel, you will not be disappointed. You will laugh, and you will cry. Your heart will break. You may find, as Ivorie and Peter did, that courage and hope are the ingredients needed to put anyone back together.
You can checkout this, and other wonderful books at Boyd County Public Library. Just stop in any of our three branches – Ashland, Catlettsburg or the Kyova Mall - or visit the online catalog at www.thebookplace.org .