In the Dream House

I don’t even know how to begin reviewing IN THE DREAM HOUSE by Carmen Maria Machado. This memoir is too brilliant, too groundbreaking, too perfect for my stupid words to even begin to describe it’s importance and just how dang good it is. BUT, y’all I gotta try!

IN THE DREAM HOUSE is a memoir about Machado’s first queer relationship. What starts with the thrills of new infatuation and sexual desire devolves into psychological, emotional, and verbal abuse. Machado brilliantly depicts the insidious nature of abusive relationships, especially the often difficult to capture trauma of non-physical abuse. Each chapter of the memoir is framed around it’s own narrative metaphor such as lesbian pulp novel, high fantasy, unreliable narrator, and cosmic horror.  My favorite section is a Choose Your Own Adventure in which you navigate an argument between Machado and the woman. My stomach dropped as I chose my responses, realizing that as a reader I, like Machado, was trapped in the cruel cycle of abuse. I’m completely blow away by Machado’s ability to write so inventively about such a complex, troubling, and personal subject matter.

Machado takes the reader on a journey down this harrowing rabbit hole not only to sincerely examine her own terrible yet formative relationship but as a larger way to discuss queer abuse. Machado combats the stereotype of lesbian relationships being utopian safe-havens apart from “masculine” physical and verbal abuses. IN THE DREAM HOUSE becomes an archive and resource about the realities and history of queer abuse.

I applaud Machado for her courage in writing IN THE DREAM HOUSE. She has redefined what a memoir looks like and what it can mean. Everyone take note: IN THE DREAM HOUSE has changed the game forever!

** Graywolf Press provided the book for honest review


  • Title: In the Dream House: A Memoir
  • Author: Carmen Maria Machado
  • Published: November 5, 2019 (Graywolf Press)
  • Genre: Memoir, Nonfiction, LGBT
  • Booky Nooky Rating: * * * * *

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