• The Fiction Fox

Review: In the Dream House - Carmen Maria Machado


Genre: Personal Memoir Published: Graywolf Press, November 2019 My Rating: 5/5 stars


“Putting language to something for which you have no language is no easy feat.”


In the Dream House is one of the best and most well-written memoirs I’ve ever read. Period.

I might just end my review there, as there’s honestly not much more I can add; this book has all the power to speak for itself.


I can however, tell you a little about what I experienced throughout my read. Mostly, it was a rapid-fire back-and-forth between visceral discomfort and absolute awe. Discomfort from the harrowing experiences Machado describes, but also from the strange feeling of “invasion of privacy” that came from reading them. I felt like a kind of voyeuristic transgression in witnessing these events that should take place in the safety and privacy of the (Dream-)house. All of that, of course, is very intentional.

Awe therefore, for how Machado manages to capture that feeling, but also for the insight and openness on what must have been the most difficult and traumatic period of her life. I cannot express the amount of respect I have for anyone able to take such a visceral experience, and trap in into pages.


It's a difficult book to “recommend”, as it’s such a personal account, that will lead to such a personal reading experience for everyone, based off their own experiences.

As a bookreviewer, I’ll highly recommend this, as being one of the best literary memoirs I’ve ever read. As your bookish friend: I want to say the following:

Read this book from a distance, when you’re out; the Dream House being only a spec on the horizon. If you’re currently living in the Dream House, or have just stepped out the door: wait a little. Close that door behind you, walk away, and find help if you need it. Take care of yourself first. As I feel about any books that deal with the subject of trauma, no matter how brilliant they are: there is no benefit in digging in actively haunted grounds.


Find this book on Goodreads.