Categories: Memoir, LGBTQ+ (lesbian and bisexual)
In the Dream House is the true story of the author’s experience with violence in a queer relationship. The beautiful prose and the choose-your-own-adventure style of the book sets this apart and describes a story that has happened for as long as people have been in relationships, but is hardly ever acknowledged.
This is the first book by Carmen Maria Machado that I’ve read, and it immediately made me add Her Body and Other Parties to my to-be-read list. In the Dream House is one of the most difficult books I’ve read this year, a painful look into domestic violence in a queer couple, as experienced by Carmen herself. The author divides this story into several chapters, most of which are one page long, and told in different styles, and always in second person.
The reader first meets her, the beautiful blonde, boyish woman Carmen fell in love with, and she tells it as a love story in a way that you can’t help falling a little in love with her, too. The second person narration fits perfectly in the narrative, turning it into something so much more personal and a bit eerie. I think it also fits with the distancing of the person the author is now with the person she used to be – of how much she’s changed and learned since then, which makes her feel like the voice of the story (you) is a different person from the author (I). It was such a heartbreaking read that I needed to take a few breaks in between chapters. It’s incredible how personal and powerful this book is.
I wasn’t enchanted by every single chapter, each one in a different, experimental style (I say experimental because I cannot think of a better word, but the chapters are executed masterfully), which sometimes made it even more personal for me as a reader, and sometimes less. The fairy tale feel of many of the chapters adds another layer to the story, and were my favorite ones. It was a beautiful and intense experience – this is my favorite non-fiction book of the year!
I can’t put in words exactly how great this book is – you just need to experience it for yourself, really.
Trigger warnings for abuse in a romantic relationship and a few scenes with homophobia.