Impossible to put down, even when it made my heart hurt/stomach turn/eyes sting with tears, Machado's memoir unfolds with the insidious, blooming ache of a bruise into something spectacular and necessary. I wish, for her sake, it were a work of fiction, but the fact that it isn’t — the fact that it breathes life into something that is woefully under-documented and widely ignored — is part of what makes it so powerful. Machado is a brilliant, generous writer, and In the Dream House is nothing short of extraordinary. Recommended By Tove H., Powells.com
This is a heartbreaking memoir of an abusive relationship and the person who enters, lives, and leaves the experience. Machado tells her story in short pieces that play with different forms and genres, which serves to capture the dizzying feeling of trying to make sense of abuse as it’s happening, and to understand its ramifications as a survivor. It’s a beautiful, devastating, and hopeful book that broke me open and built new chambers in my heart. Recommended By Michelle C., Powells.com
Wow... this book is so necessary and beautiful. A stunning exploration of the meaning of home, of domestic abuse, of the architecture of romantic dreams and optimistic desire, of queer love, and of lyrical realism, In the Dream House is a brilliant successor to Machado's acclaimed first book, Her Body and Other Parties. An innovative investigation of trauma, it explores and overturns a variety of common narrative tropes in order to reveal the many lenses through which a story may be told. This book totally changed my conception of what a memoir can be. Recommended By Ariel K., Powells.com
This magical book is all sinew and blood–shattered fragments of memory filtered through lenses ranging from academic theory to pop culture, all shimmering and shifting perspectives just like the Dream House itself. Laying bare the inner workings of psychological abuse in a lesbian relationship, it interrogates the hard questions of how to address when queers sometimes harm other queers, how abuse occurs when the man is absent, and how to tell the stories that have so few words to tell them. Carmen Maria Machado grabs onto this slippery archival thread and her gorgeous and haunted memoir is the resulting miracle — the birth of new language for us to see ourselves. Recommended By Cosima C., Powells.com
Carmen Maria Machado’s beautiful, fearless memoir, In The Dream House, spins her memories in a centrifuge and examines the constituent parts. By divvying the tale into tiny, delicate fragments, Machado makes the emotional pain more vivid while also putting the reader in the same removed, dissociative viewpoint that trauma victims often experience. This is one of the smartest and most moving books of the year. Recommended By Keith M., Powells.com
Machado dropped this incredible book into a world eager to overlook instances of queer domestic abuse. It's a no-holds-barred delve into the trauma she experienced, as well as a commentary about the lack of history and documentation of abuse in queer relationships. She does not coddle the reader, instead forcing us to confront a hard truth: queerness is not all sunshine and rainbows, queer people are fully capable of harm, and it is vital that these stories are recorded. Recommended By Brianna B., Powells.com
If you have ever heard a story about abuse and thought, "Why would this person ever stay in this unsafe situation?," this book is for you. In the Dream House is an astonishing read. It's an eye-opening book about abusive domestic violence in a lesbian relationship, something that is rarely talked about. This memoir is a genre-bending slice of life and even though you know that it has a happy ending, you still worry and care about Carmen Maria Machado. In the Dream House is one of the best books that I've read this year. Actually, it might be one of the best books that I've ever read. It makes me want to be a kinder person and a better writer, and I have Carmen Maria Machado to thank for that. Recommended By Katherine M., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
A revolutionary memoir about domestic abuse by the award-winning author of Her Body and Other Parties
In the Dream House is Carmen Maria Machado's engrossing and wildly innovative account of a relationship gone bad, and a bold dissection of the mechanisms and cultural representations of psychological abuse. Tracing the full arc of a harrowing relationship with a charismatic but volatile woman, Machado struggles to make sense of how what happened to her shaped the person she was becoming.
And it’s that struggle that gives the book its original structure: each chapter is driven by its own narrative trope — the haunted house, erotica, the bildungsroman — through which Machado holds the events up to the light and examines them from different angles. She looks back at her religious adolescence, unpacks the stereotype of lesbian relationships as safe and utopian, and widens the view with essayistic explorations of the history and reality of abuse in queer relationships.
Machado’s dire narrative is leavened with her characteristic wit, playfulness, and openness to inquiry. She casts a critical eye over legal proceedings, fairy tales, Star Trek, and Disney villains, as well as iconic works of film and fiction. The result is a wrenching, riveting book that explodes our ideas about what a memoir can do and be.
"A riot of quirkiness and eccentricity, and the mood of the book, which shifts from droll humor to melancholy to gentle vulnerability, is unclassifiable — and just right." Kirkus
"Wrought with alarming premonition, propulsive rhythm, and a trove of folkloric archetypes, Machado's genre-crushing memoir is a meditation on the eclipse of knowledge and intuition by the narcotic light of a destructive bond that feels like love." Melissa Broder
"Daringly structured and ruthlessly inquisitive. . . . The heart of this history is clear, deeply felt, and powerful. A fiercely honest, imaginatively written, and necessary memoir from one our great young writers." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"[Machado’s] use of a vivid experimental lens to show women struggling for agency is startling." The New Yorker
"Machado’s writing is full of repressed physical energy and the raw juice of annihilating female fury." Louise Erdrich, The Millions
About the Author
Carmen Maria Machado is the author of Her Body and Other Parties, which was a finalist for the National Book Award and winner of the National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Prize. She lives in Philadelphia with her wife.