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Harry Potter…Friends style. 

I was laughing within 5 seconds.

The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters

5 stars

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

I read this book in one sitting.  Not the one sitting where you get up and roam around while reading, I’m talking about the I-needed-to-pee-five-hours-ago-but-forgot kind of one sitting. Everything about The Cure for Dreaming was new and exciting. With a combination of elegantly constructed fiction, alongside disturbing fact – The Cure for Dreaming is like the glitz and glam of YA paranormal with a sophisticated twist.

Olivia Mead is a young woman in the early 1900’s. For her this meant she lived in a time where women had no voices amongst their communities, let alone basic rights.  It is clear in the first chapter that Olivia isn’t okay with that, and is an active suffragette in her community, wanting the small right of being able to vote.

Olivia was a feisty and strong-willed character, which I loved. She never sold her self short or doubted what she believed in. I think that’s so so important. Character representation of females can be at best pretty dismal, but we’ve come a long way and Cat Winters characters depict that change in media perfectly.

The novel is complimented with photographs and quotes from early feminism icons. The mix of these displays stays on a fine balance of empowering and frustrating. I found myself grinning stupidly at the Susan B. Anthony quote, “… I rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel. It gives her a feeling of self-reliance and independence the moment se takes her seat; and away she goes, the picture of untrammelled womanhood.” (1896)  50 pages earlier, I had turned the page and was in tears when finding an image of the ‘Opposed to woman suffrage’ headquarters, with an Anti-suffrage quote “In Politics there is struggle, strife, contention, bitterness, heart-burning, excitement, agitation, everything which is adverse to the character of women” (Elihu Root, 1894.) Cat Winters choice to include these images and quotes was very humbling as a reader – they added a subtle dimension of history that served as a strong reminder of the reality intertwined with the story.

There was a lot of potential for the Magical Realism aspect of the novel just be an accelerant to the story line and not hold a lot of purpose, but I was not disappointed with the unique new view that not only was captivating but also relevant to the story line and message of the novel. Olivia’s father being of the mindset that women should be seen and not heard ends up employing the young hypnotist, Henri, to set her straight. The frustration she faced through the consequences of that was oozing off the page.  It takes all the social oppression that women were facing and turns it into a physical problem for Olivia.  I found this really clever on behalf of the author because if the reader was even a tiny bit sceptical as to the validity of the problems women were facing at the time, they were proven wrong through the explicit struggle that Olivia fought against, and it was easy to see how her literal problems resonated on a social level.

 I loved Henri!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! There aren’t enough exclamation marks to articulate my love for Henri. At first I was sceptical because he was portrayed as very dark and mysterious, but as the novel progressed he was Olivia’s equal, ally, and advocate. This factor marks reason 20000 as to why this novel is so unique and refreshing. His wit and charm kept me interested in his character, but his empathy and loyalty anchored me in.

This book depicts everything that suffragettes and later, feminists have been fighting for. Once you take someone’s voice away they will only want their rights more and more. From the characters to the setting to the rich, researched history, this book is everything I ever needed in my life. Read this book, it’s worth every minute and dollar spent on it.

- Lara  

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