By Lauren Mechling
Claire Voyante is clairvoyant, although her visions have never shown her anything useful. For her fifteenth birthday, her grandmother Kiki Merriman gives her a gorgeous cameo that should direct her powers and allow her to find adventures. Claire doesn’t seem to be finding any adventures – she’s stuck at her new school. She becomes friends with Becca, another new girl who is less than thrilled to be a student at Henry Hudson. As they get to know the other’s family, Claire discovers the first of her grandmother’s promised adventures.
The adventure in DREAM GIRL is a fairly straightforward mystery, made frustrating by Claire’s inability to see the obvious direction of her visions. Rye and Andy’s relationship also seems underdone, as it’s never explained why he’s so devoted when she’s around and seems uninterested in her at other times. This seems like Claire should worry about it as she begins to fall for him since he could do the same to her. The other characters seem remarkably unconcerned about a possible romance between a fifteen-year-old girl and an eighteen-year-old in college. In fact, the characters who know about it encourage it.
It’s a shame that much of the book’s emphasis is put on these elements when Claire’s school and home life are far more interesting. Her father is a French professor and her parents hold a salon in their apartment, full of several colorful characters. Her school is full of them too. Ian carries a roller suitcase instead of a backpack and Eleanor effortlessly transcends the high school experience. Both of them are scene stealers who are tragically underused. Sheila, the queen bee, earns more screen time, which she deserves. She’s a nerd in popular girl clothing and her mom hints at even more hidden depths. Truly, all the characters are well-done and so are most of the relationships. I just don’t get Andy and Rye or Andy and Claire.
Becca, however, does deserve her screen time. She fully enjoys having a real friend and purposefully tells Claire little about herself at first. She's sweet and clever even if I get lost every time she starts waxing poetic about ketchup. (I do hate the stuff, since it's made from tomatoes. Blech.)
I enjoyed DREAM GIRL, but the A-plot doesn’t hold up to any of the subplots. The paranormal element feels extraneous and didn’t seem to add much to the book as a whole. I believe I prefer the 10th-Grade Social Climber books, which Lauren Mechling coauthored.
You can find more information at Lauren Mechling's website or blog. DREAM GIRL is available now, and there is going to be a sequel. (I've heard that it's going to be titled DREAM LIFE, but I'm not sure that's true.)