The Reader’s Nook: “The Dream Daughter” by Diane Chamberlain

Book Review by Michelle Goetzl

What would you do to save your child? What lengths might you go to if your child was sick? These are the central questions behind Diane Chamberlain’s newest novel, The Dream Daughter. In this captivating read, Chamberlain explores the parental bond and the lengths one woman will go to for her child.

The story begins in 1970. Caroline “Carly” Sears lives with her sister and brother-in-law on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Carly’s husband has recently been killed in Vietnam and Carly is given the awful news that the baby she is carrying has a fatal heart problem. As anyone in her day would, Carly is prepared to continue with her pregnancy and pray for the best; her brother-in-law, Hunter, has another idea.

Hunter has a plan to save Carly’s unborn child by sending her to the year 2001. It seems outlandish, and the plot device is a big break from Chamberlain’s typical writing style, but Hunter manages to prove to Carly that he isn’t crazy and that it is the only hope. To save her daughter, Carly has to take a giant leap of faith.

The majority of the novel takes place in 2001 as Carly prepares for the arrival of her daughter and then waits for her to get healthy enough to leave the hospital and return to 1970. She has to live in New York City with modern technology and lifestyles that she is not accustomed to. Going on with Hunter’s plan forces Carly to have a strength and courage that she isn’t sure she possesses, but it makes her stronger in the long run.

With trademark Chamberlain style The Dream Daughter revolves around relationships, a medical issue and secrets, though the secrets are kept by Carly, not kept from her, as is often found in Chamberlain books. The reader is asked to suspend disbelief when it comes to the time-travel aspect. While this is an important part of the plot, the focus is more on Carly herself.

Carly is a very likeable heroine. She has issue after issue thrown at her and handles them all remarkably well. She has a sweet Southern charm that allows her to connect well with those around her and she builds relationships easily, even while having to concoct stories about where she came from. The relationship that is especially important, and what helps the reader understand Carly the most, is the relationship that she has with her daughter both before and after she is born.

Through it all, The Dream Daughter was a complete page turner. With plot twists and tons of details, Chamberlain has created a resonant story rich with characters that come alive on the page. Though nearly 400 pages, it is the type of book that you just don’t want to put down. Fans of books like The Time Travelers Wife or the works of Jodi Picoult will find themselves entranced.

Michelle Goetzl writes an online blog—“Books My Kids Read.” She loves books and sharing that love of reading with children. She can be reached at booksmykidsread@gmail.com.