Sunday, July 10, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: The Fourth Wall / Elizabeth Maria Naranjo

TITLE: The Fourth Wall
AUTHOR: Elizabeth Maria Naranjo
PUBLISHER: WiDo Publishing

Young Adult--Contemporary/Paranormal

15-year-old Marin has been lucid dreaming since she was little, when her mother told her that her ability to control her dreamscape was a gift. After a tragic accident claims her mother's life, she uses her power over her dreams to create a fantasyland to escape into. In addition, her mother's death has caused her baby brother to regress inexplicably, while her father struggles to care for them both alone.

When she's advised by a counselor to join group therapy at school, Marin is initially skeptical. Meanwhile, the fantasyland in her dream soon turns into a nightmare as monsters invade, trying to keep her from something... something whose consequences could touch the real world.

Elizabeth Maria Naranjo's YA novel THE FOURTH WALL is nothing short of mesmerizing. Every sentence feels like it was spun from fine silk and woven together into a flowing, hypnotic tapestry. There's a rhythm and a poetry to the writing, which truly sings through gorgeously arranged words.

It's hard to pick a sub-genre within YA for this book because of the dual storylines--the real world Marin lives in and the fantasyland she dreams in. Much of the novel is about how Marin handles the double grief of losing her mother and handling her brother's new developmental challenges. A mature and quiet teen, she struggles to heal herself while trying not to burden anyone else. Her emotions and inner turmoil really come alive on the page, until you're there with her, remembering her mother and experiencing her sorrow and confusion as much as she is. The heavy burdens she carries have caused her to withdraw, and throughout the book, you watch as bit by bit, she begins coming out of her shell and taking control of her own life again.

The book also intersperses fantastical scenes from Marin's dreams amid her attempts to get through her daily life. These dream sequences parallel her real world struggles, eventually leading to an unexpected and rather devastating twist.

A gorgeously rendered exploration of grief, THE FOURTH WALL comes to life and pulls you into Marin's journey. Everything about it is well crafted--the narrative, the dialogue, the characters, the plot. I was pleasantly surprised by the sheer poetic quality of this book, and I highly recommend it.

Elizabeth Maria Naranjo grew up in Cheyenne, Wyoming, before escaping the cold winters and settling in the Sonoran Desert. She lives in Tempe, Arizona with her husband and two children.

Elizabeth also writes short fiction and creative nonfiction. Her work has been published in SLAB Literary Magazine, The Portland Review, Hospital Drive, Literary Mama, Babble, Brain, Child, and Bartleby Snopes. She likes dark chocolate and strong coffee, and she loves hearing from readers. Visit her online at

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