Awa and the Dreamrealm by Isa Pearl Ritchie is a middle grade book that I found surprisingly interesting. It was a quick read that held my attention and had me flipping pages to find out what happened next to Awa. I was invited to review this book as part of a blog tour through Rachel’s Random Resources, and I’d like to thank Rachel and the author for providing a copy of this wonderful book, as well as the opportunity to participate in my first ever blog tour!
CONTENT WARNING: divorce, racism, bullying, anxiety
What if dreams are more real than waking life?
Life is already complicated enough for Awa Bryant when she starts having weird dreams – waking dreams – and strange coincidences start appearing in her real life.
She meets dreamcharmer, Veila, a quirky glowing creature who helps to guide Awa through the mysterious Dreamrealm.
At first the Dreamrealm is a glorious escape from Awa’s daily struggles but something is not right… Soon Awa discovers she has a bigger quest, and everything she cares about is at stake. Will she be brave enough to face her fears and save her friends?
Awa (pronounced ah-wah) is a 12 year-old girl who lives in New Zealand, and is dealing with a lot. After the divorce of her parents, she has moved from her childhood home into an apartment with her mom in a new neighborhood. I couldn’t help but sympathize with the experience of switching schools and having to start all over again, and meeting new kids.
Awa is also dealing with anxiety, which isn’t helped by the fact that she has attracted the attention of a bully on her very first day. She is immediately picked on for her racial heritage, as she is of Māori, Chinese, and Scottish descent. I’m amazed at how mature Awa behaves in some respects, especially in dealing with her peers, although my heart breaks at the isolation she experiences. She finds a sense of comfort in sleep, especially once it leads her to discover the Dreamrealm. In the Dreamrealm, she finds out that she is a Sensitive, and is to play an important role. Veila, the dreamcharmer that she encounters, drops mysterious hints along the way, but Awa is often left to figure things out on her own. Awa is really smart, and trusts her instincts, but will this be enough to save what’s important?
I really liked this book a lot. Awa is not perfect, but she’s a great role model. It’s important to have characters who are diverse, and Awa fits the bill. She is multiracial and deals with anxiety, but doesn’t let it get in her way. She is friendly and kind, and is someone that most people can find something in common with. The writing is beautiful. While it is intended for middle grade readers, the concepts might be a little complicated for kids at the younger end of the spectrum, so a parent may need to be available to explain some of the ideas or concepts. There is a bit of conflict in the book, but there isn’t anything that would scare younger readers, and it can be a great way to discuss issues that many young people face, such as divorce, bullying, racism, and even mental health. I’d definitely recommend this book. It’s a really interesting concept and a great start to a series.
You can purchase this book on Amazon:
About The Author
Isa Pearl Ritchie is a New Zealand writer. As a child, she loved creating imaginary worlds. She has completed a PhD on food sovereignty in Aotearoa. Her second novel, Fishing for Māui, was selected as one of the top books of 2018 in the New Zealand Listener and was a finalist in the NZ Booklovers Award for Best Adult Fiction Book 2019. Awa and the Dreamrealm is her first book for young people.
Check out some of the other stops on the blog tour as well!