Book Review: The Hambledown Dream by Dean Mayes


The Hambledown Dream by Dean Mayes is a book that defies my genre categories. It is not quite romance, or coming of age, spiritual, or paranormal but somehow holds elements of all four. Denny Banister had everything, until cancer tore him down and took him away from his two passions, Sonya and the guitar. Andy DeVries lives across the world, and has a life very different from Denny. He deals drugs, works at a pub, and stumbles through life. The only thing Denny and Andy share is a love of guitar and being at death's door at the same time. When Andy recovers from an overdose he finds that he has changed, even more than one might expect. He is haunted by dreams, of memories, that do not belong to him and starts to change his life. He tries to redeem himself, find the woman that haunts his dreams, and find himself.

The Hambledown Dream is not a rehash of Ghost, while there were a few moments that struck a familiar chord. Andy's journey through the haze of drugs and trying to escape that life felt very genuine, though I have never been there. the stark contrast between the drug scene in Chicago and Sonya's grief in scenic Hambledown makes the emotion involved in both more vivid and poignant to me. Andy's struggles were vast, and some were those that readers could easily identify. The lost feelings had during the early adult years, struggling with family relationships, making strides to follow the right path rather than the path with the most empty praise, are all things most of us can recognize in ourselves on some level. I will admit that this is not my normal kind of book, I tend to read things that take me away from reality, rather than books that stir up deep emotion. However, I am extremely glad I read it.

My only problem with The Hambledown Dream is small, though it repeats regularly. Andy is a recovering addict through the majority of the book. However, alcohol is a frequent companion. I would think that drinking would not be helpful in recovering from a crystal meth addiction, but again, I have not been there so I can only guess. On the other hand, I found the characters and their reactions to situations and where they found themselves to be very real and believable to me as I read. I cared for Andy, Denny, Sonya, and the others very quickly. Even now, days after having finished the book, I find myself thinking about the characters and wondering how things turned out for them in the long run.

The Hambledown Dream is a deep and enthralling book. I found it hard to put down, and am still emotionally invested in the characters. I highly recommend reading this adults, as well as to young adults and teens. There is some violence and some intimate moments, but nothing that would stop me from encouraging the read. I think teens and those in their early adult life could benefit from becoming invested in some of Andy's story, and it could help start a dialogue with the others in their lives. I will warn those that cry easily, you will want tissues handy. As someone that typically avoids tearjerkers, I invite my fellow stoic souls to give The Hambledown Dream a chance.
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