4 Stars - Strongly recommended
Thanks to author Kelly Lydick for sending me a copy of this experimental work of fiction for review.
Mastering the Dream takes us on the emotional journey of a young woman named Marie. Written in a multitude of forms, spanning her past and her present in journal entries and letters written to her future self from her past self, we witness her swift mental decline and her slow and painful climb back up into sanity.
Marie, like many of us, questions the existence of God. Though unlike many of us, she appears to agonize over it. She ponders the past, present, and future of everything around her in excess, which I believe eventually takes its toll on her mental and physical health.
There is a point in the novel where Marie fears that she will fade out of existence, that by forgetting the placement of freckles she may forget herself. There is a panicky anxiety to her... her inability to sleep at night, her attention to breathing... Which funnily enough I can relate to.
When I was in my teens, I started to experience heart palpatations, which scared me half to death. I would notice them more at night, when I was laying down trying to sleep.. so, many nights found me pacing the bedroom floor, wringing my hands, and drinking water just to keep my body moving, because if I was moving, then my heart was beating...and I was terrified to fall asleep for fear of not waking back up.
In my opinion, the risks Kelly Lydick takes by telling her story in multiple formats paid off. At times, her methods added a frantic, paronoid pace. The further into the novel I got, the more I felt sure that Kelly was writing from personal experience herself. It felt a little too real to be written purely fiction. But again, that is only my opinion.