The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain

The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain
Pub. Date: October 2, 2018
Source: ARC + finished hardcover via publisher (Thank you, St. Martin’s Press!)
Summary: When Caroline Sears receives the news that her unborn baby girl has a heart defect, she is devastated. It is 1970 and there seems to be little that can be done. But her brother-in-law, a physicist, tells her that perhaps there is. Hunter appeared in their lives just a few years before—and his appearance was as mysterious as his past. With no family, no friends, and a background shrouded in secrets, Hunter embraced the Sears family and never looked back.

Now, Hunter is telling her that something can be done about her baby’s heart. Something that will shatter every preconceived notion that Caroline has. Something that will require a kind of strength and courage that Caroline never knew existed. Something that will mean a mind-bending leap of faith on Caroline’s part.

And all for the love of her unborn child.
Genre: Historical Fiction, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Time Travel

In the mid 1960s, Caroline Sears is thrown headfirst into her new hospital job after she’s tasked with caring for the one patient the other nurses avoid. Listless, depressed, and possibly suicidal, Hunter refuses to speak to any of the doctors, won’t give the nurses the time of day…until he sees Caroline. Suddenly this strange and silent man begins to smile and laugh, fully willing to allow Caroline – Carly – to show him how to use crutches to get around on his newly broken leg.

Five years later Hunter is part of the family. Literally. Though Carly was initially hesitant to introduce her sister to a potentially disturbed patient, the pair immediately hit it off and, just a few years later, have a beautiful little boy, John Paul (naturally after John Lennon and Paul McCartney – Carly’s sister is a massive Beatles fan and the first day Carly met Hunter he sang right along with the latest Beatles song, odd at first since the song was just then making its debut on American airwaves, but Carly quickly learned that Hunter had a knack for just knowing things).

While Patti and Hunter have a perfect life, Carly’s is beginning to fall apart. She only just learns of her husband’s death – killed in Vietnam – when she discovers their unborn daughter (the baby Joe hadn’t even known about, Carly herself only recently found out she was pregnant) has a heart defect and the chances of survival are virtually nonexistent. With her world shattering, Hunter reveals a secret to Carly: he’s a time-traveler. And in order to save her child, Carly needs to get to the future.

Any new Diane Chamberlain novel is a cause for celebration. By curling up with an industrial size box of tissues, obviously, because as I’ve said time and time again, this woman has it out for me. So pardon me if I had a moment of blissful ignorance: why surely a sci-fi time-travel romp won’t have any heartbreaking scenes! For once, a sunshiney, happy tale!

Yeah, I was sniffling and puffy-eyed well before finishing. My bad.

St. Martin’s, maybe spring for a puppy? An entire menagerie of cute baby animals? Although what does it say about me that, not only do I keep coming back to these gut-punch stories, but I actually look forward to them?? The Dream Daughter pulls all the stops and I refuse to spoil anything, though I will say the moment I saw the chapter heading noting the date was September 2001 (and set in New York), I wailed a loud “nooo” and had to take a break.

Silly me, thinking 9/11 would be the emotional scene. What happens after is even worse.

Don’t take my unrelenting weeping as a sign this book is anything but amazing. The Dream Daughter is phenomenal and Diane Chamberlain proves she can shine in any genre, yet underneath the fantasy elements lies a very real, very universal question: how far will a mother go to protect her child? The characters are all so beautifully crafted, but Carly is sure to stick with readers, this one included. A slightly reserved woman content to spend to rest of her life in her childhood cottage undergoes a huge overhaul, discovering courage and tenacity she had no idea she possessed. She lost her husband and is all but guaranteed to lose her child unless she makes the leap – literally – decades into the future. Not only is she totally on her own, but she’s essentially in a new world: computers, cell phones, the Internet. Even money is a bit bewildering (Carly quickly learns a few hundred bucks in 1970 went MUCH further than in 2001). I can’t say enough about Carly and her character growth. I would not fare a fraction as well as she did if I were in her place.

As always, the time spent within the pages is all too brief compared to how long the story stays with me afterward. The Dream Daughter might be a dip in a new genre, but at its core it’s still a classic Diane Chamberlain novel that long-time readers are sure to love. Few things make me ugly cry like her books, but they’re just so. good. I can’t help but delight in each heartbreak – and eagerly await the next one. It will come as no surprise to anyone when The Dream Daughter finds its way back to the blog at the end of the year as a Top Read of 2018.

3 thoughts on “The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain

  1. […] THE DREAM DAUGHTER BY DIANE CHAMBERLAIN might be an exploration of a new genre (sci-fi/fantasy), but it’s still a Diane novel at heart and easily one of my favorite reads of the year. No surprises there, right? A woman in 1970 loses her husband in the Vietnam War and, shortly after, learns their child has a fatal heart defect. Knowing she can’t bear to lose her child too – the last link she has to her husband – her brother-in-law confesses a secret: he can travel through time. And if Caroline wants to save her child, she needs to travel too. If you’ve ever read a Diane novel, you already know you’re going to need a lot of tissues on hand. Silly me for thinking the 9/11 scene would be the emotional one. What happened after was even worse. […]

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