Review: In The Dream House
Author: Carmen Maria Machado
I must preface this by saying, that this was one of the hardest books I have had to read. Not because of the writing, the writing was beautiful. But because the story that Machado shared is a story that I know all too well. Reading this book made me examine some of the things I experienced. And none of what I say below will do this book the justice it deserves.
“Love cannot be won or lost; a relationship doesn’t have a scoring system. We are partners, paired against the world. We cannot succeed if we are at odds with each other.”
I came from a household where I saw abuse, so naturally I stayed in a relationship that was abusive. At the time, I did not know better, my idea of “love” was to stay. I held myself responsible for the rage this person held, and blamed myself for the emotional and physical abuse I endured. As I was reading In The Dream House, Machado expressed thoughts and feelings that I too felt in those dark months.
Reading this was certainly an interactive experience for me. And I say that because there were moments that I connected with the words on the pages as if I was Machado, as if I was in The Dream House. I know our stories are different, but the experiences hold the same essence. I was afraid to share my experience because queer abuse has been viewed as impossible. I would have chosen to make excuses for her rather than to hold her accountable.
“That’s what you want. You want an explanation that clears her of responsibility, that permits your relationship to continue unabated. You want to be able to explain to others what she’s done without seeing horror on their faces.”
Much like Machado, I wish that I would have said something sooner. But fear sometimes has a hold on you cannot get past. It wasn’t until I realized that if I had stayed, I would have become the monster in The Dream House.
This memoir was haunting yet beautiful, brilliant and breathtaking in all the ways it was meant to. This isn’t a review more so a synopsis of my experience while reading this masterpiece. I cried, I was rigid with the fear that I felt in the past but also the fear that Machado wrote about so eloquently.
Until next time, Until the next book.