Book Review: In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado

 If you're not familiar with Machado's writing, let me warn you that it's equal parts beautiful and disconcerting. Perhaps, it would be akin to seeing Medusa in the flesh. That is, until she stuns you still before she kills you then you won't feel anything at all. In the same way you'll meet your demise, Machado's prose will hit you right in the solar plexus. But like a slow torture, because she'll make you wallow in it first. In her latest work, the memoir features pages upon pages of several doors. Doors leading to different scenarios -- sometimes fun, sometimes sublime, but most of the time, horrific. 

I supposed you can say this is her invitation for you to enter her house of horrors. Recounting a life in the hands of an abusive partner. I am honest enough to admit my naivete that abuse only happens in the hands of a man. Carmen definitely proved that theory otherwise. Abuse of any kind doesn't happen instantly, as we all know. It starts off as a throw away comment about the way you look; a blame for something inconsequential, then eventually, a paralyzing fear instilled right in your deepest core until you can't move. 

First, the victim feels utterly grateful for her luck. Imagine meeting your ultimate person, your soulmate. She's beautiful and brilliant, while you feel lacking in all that you think matters. But because you don't know yet what it feels like to be properly in love, you think this is it. Your life can't get any better, and you do your best to hold on to that feeling. Even ignoring the way she's slowly putting you down even in small increments. Until you wake up no longer recognizing who you are and cannot envision a way out. 

What you can take away from reading this book, is if you're a woman who has suffered abuse in the hands of another woman and found yourself questioning whether to consider it abuse, question no more. Abuse is abuse is abuse. Regardless of the the person's sexual orientation or gender. Machado's writing amplifies the beauty of love and as well, the horrors. 


  1. This does sound like a good read. Abuse can come from anywhere.

  2. Wow, this sounds intense!!! But I agree, abusive behavior can come from men or women, from a romantic partner, a family member, a supervisor...

  3. My daughter is reading this one right now. A friend had recommended it. Sounds difficult but worthwhile.

  4. I love how you describe the author's writing! Doesn't sound like my kind of thing, but your description does have me curious.

  5. This sounds like an interesting read. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Joy. I have a hard time reading books with abuse (and yes, girl on girl abuse is a thing) so while I'm curious, I don't know that I'd be able to read this. I still appreciate reading your thoughts.

  6. Wow thatwhole first paragraph... love the medusa analogy! This sounds powerful and intense, and nice to see there are reads out there that shine a light on it...

  7. Aye, abuse is abuse in any form

  8. I think a lot of abuse happens gradually so a lot of victims don't realize how bad the treatment is because it came on slowly. So sad. The abuser and victim should both get treatment/therapy. Sounds like a moving read.


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