in the dream house

Hi friends! I wasn’t planning on reading In the Dream House in January although it’s been near the top of my TBR list for a long time now. I was in a slump post-These Violent Delights so I picked it up and absolutely tore through it in about three hours. I’m still working on catching up to my current reads, so thank you for being patient with me. Enjoy!

Synopsis & Quick Thoughts

In the Dream House is a memoir by author Carmen Maria Machado, who is well-known for her award-winning short story collection, Her Body and Other Parties. This memoir details a period of time in Machado’s life which was marked by an abusive relationship. Told in small vignettes through various frames of reference and tropes, many of which are horror-centric, Machado’s writings explore the not-often discussed issue of domestic abuse in LGBTQ+ relationships.

This memoir is going to stick with me for a very long time. I’ve found that I tend to really enjoy the memoirs that I read and rate them all highly and this is no exception. I had heard a lot about this book prior to reading it and it met and exceeded my expectations, which doesn’t happen often. Not only is it a captivating and fast-paced read, it contains a message that everyone needs to read and hear.

Positives

By far the most unique aspect of this book is the way in which Machado frames her experiences for the reader. Each chapter is relatively short but describes her experiences with her partner through a different trope or reference; a lot of these chapter topics revolve around thriller or horror themes. I think this is such a unique and interesting way to tell a story, especially a memoir. I was captivated and on the edge of my seat the entire time as if I was reading a fictitious thriller, but the constant change of the framing was a frequent reminder that this book is very much non-fiction. I really cannot get enough of Machado’s writing style and I plan on looking into and reading more of her work (especially Her Body and Other Parties, which I’ve heard so many good things about).

Apart from the amazing writing style and structure of this memoir, it also has a very important message. As a part of the LGBTQ+ community, Machado has many experiences and faces many struggles that are not widely recognized by mainstream society. From what I know of, there aren’t many – if any – books or memoirs describing the experiences of LGBTQ+ people in abusive or unhealthy relationships. Machado’s writings help to bring awareness to a problem that many might not realize the extent or severity of. She does this is a way that isn’t patronizing or makes the reader feel back for any ignorance on the topic, but rather informs and educates in a straightforward yet vulnerable manner. This memoir is a wonderful way to begin a dialogue on a societal issue that deserves far more attention.

Negatives

Nothing. Seriously. I only wish it were longer because I just can’t get enough of Machado’s writing style. I guess this is the place where I should note that while I think everyone should read this book, it does contain content that might be triggering to some. Know this book has descriptions of domestic violence, including verbal, physical, and emotional abuse. Not everyone is going to be in the headspace to read this book, and that’s totally okay, so know what to expect before you start reading!

Rating & Final Thoughts

5 out of 5 stars. No question about it. In the Dream House is a book that everyone should read (although I understand that some may not be in the headspace to do so). What a wonderfully written book about such an important issue. Even if you aren’t big into memoirs, I implore you to take a chance on this one – it doesn’t read like the stereotypical memoir and the wonderful prose and structure will have you engaged in no time. I’m so excited to continue to read more from Machado; she’s a new favorite of mine for sure.

Buy In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado here.*

*as a reminder, I am an Amazon affiliate and make a small commission off of purchases made using my link.

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