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Dream School Paperback – December 6, 2011

3.9 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“In 1994, Blake Nelson’s seminal coming-of-age text, Girl, introduced us to Andrea Marr, a bright, sensitive, Sassy-era Holden Caulfield for tortured, wannabe-rebel good girls. Nelson’s intimate depiction of Andrea — equally unmoored in the grunge clubs of Portland, Oregon, and in her high-school locker room, rocked by teen lust and a desire for independence — created a cultish following, the tales of frequent rereadings the stuff of legend. Today, Nelson hooks us up with Andrea in Dream School (Figment), an elite East Coast college, where the exquisite hell of searching for meaning and self rolls on. So clear the weekend and make room in your backpack.”—Vanity Fair December 2011

"Dream School is first and foremost an enduring account of what it looks, feels and sounds like to be young."—The New York Times

"For a certain ’90s-obsessed set, Blake Nelson’s Dream School is the most anticipated book of the year."—The Daily

"I’m almost finished with Dream School and completely enjoying it: Girl heroine Andrea Marr leaves Portland for an East Coast private school, where she carries on being daffily privileged and obsessing about fashion and “coolness” and trying to decide what boys to sleep with and why. It’s a lot of fun."—The Portland Mercury

"You guys, it’s really good!"—xoJane

"How great is Blake Nelson? Read Girl, then Dream School. We dare you not to love these books."—I Heart Daily

"Nelson writes flawlessly in the voice of Andrea Marr, a tainted innocent who's busy negotiating the mixed messages of modern culture."—Wally Lamb, author of She's Come Undone

"In Dream School ... Nelson takes up the voice [of Andrea Marr] without skipping a beat ... it's the missing link between Bret Easton Ellis and Tao Lin."—The Stranger

"If you grew up reading Sassy Magazine, you know who Blake Nelson is."—BUST Magazine

"The missing link between Bret Easton Ellis and Tao Lin." — The Stranger

About the Author

Blake Nelson grew up in Portland, OR. He attended Wesleyan University and NYU. He began his career writing short humor pieces for Details magazine. His first novel Girl, was serialized in Sassy magazine and was made into a film starring Selma Blaire and Summer Phoenix. Nelson has since published ten more novels, including Rockstar Superstar and The New Rules of High School, Prom Anonymous and Gender Blender.

His science fiction novel They Came From Below was a Kliatt Editors Choice pick in 2008 and his 2006 novel Paranoid Park was made into a film by Gus Van Sant which won the Cannes Special Anniversary Prize Award in 2006, as well as Italy's Grinzane Literary award. His latest book Destroy All Cars has been praised as "Smart and Entertaining" by the New York Times, and was called "A wonderful novel" by the Los Angeles Times. His newest novel Recovery Road was released in March of 2011.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Figment (December 6, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0983723206
  • ISBN-13: 978-0983723202
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 6.8 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,350,423 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By S. Cohen on January 25, 2012
Format: Paperback
As a long time Blake Nelson fan, and one who was weaned on "Girl", I loved loved loved the sequel. Andrea is growing up and I love who she is-she's really coming into her own, and still true to who she was years ago. Still funny, smart and interesting, ready to try anything, and a true original.
The college stuff rings totally true, and makes me think of my college days, and all the stupid decisions I made and regretted..
I had been waiting and waiting for a sequel to "Girl", and this did not disappoint! I hope there's more, I'd love to follow Andrea as she navigates her life, she's a great character, completely accessible and interesting, and Blake Nelson always populates his novels(esp "Recovery Road" and "Destroy All Cars")with lots of marvelous and funny secondary characters. I always want a book about Andrea's friends-Sybil and Todd Sparrow, and now Carol Smith and Andrew!

5 stars! Please, write more sequels! I need more Andrea!
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I read Girl when I was in college, and fell in love with the stream-of-consciousness thinking of Andrea Marr. I was never into the underground street scene in high school and found her views on life to be so refreshing and interesting. I didn't even realize there was a sequel until last week. When I saw there was one, I immediately ordered it, and was NOT disappointed!

I related a lot more to Dream School than I did with Girl, because I totally got where she was coming from in this book. As someone from the West Coast who went back East to a small liberal arts college, I can tell you that there is an EXTREME difference between "Eastern" and "Western" cultures. I found her observations about feeling out of place, and the images that stood out to her to be extremely dead on. Trust me, we may be living in the same country, but when you go from one coast to another, it sometimes feels like you're on another planet! I think that Nelson did a great job at capturing the duality.

At certain moments in the book, I felt my heart breaking for Andrea. And I closed the book with a twinge of hope that Nelson will write a third book and complete the trilogy. He's really got a unique style that if you love, you love. And if you don't love, you tend to hate. Andrea's the same way - you either love her or you hate her. Personally, I opt for the former and can't wait to reread this book over and over again (like I did with Girl).

Like I said in my title, if you loved Girl, you'll ADORE Dream School - Happy Reading!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The first time I read this book was when Figment posted it on their website in installments. I was a freshman at the time and really identified with some of the stuff Andrea was going through, although my life was in no way as interesting as hers. I was really happy to hear that physical and kindle copies of Dream School were in the works and the first thing that caught my eye was the cover. To me, it just screams college Andrea.

Something that I love about all of Blake Nelson's books is the way he develops characters and an aspect that this novel really captures is that college changes people. In the beginning Andrea is very similar to what she was like in high school where she sits back and casually observes. But college changes her quickly. And while she does make some poor choices throughout her freshman and sophomore years, she's never truly unlikeable because she learns from her mistakes.

Girl was set in the 90's and even though this novel was published over a decade later, I liked that no time seemed to pass. Andrea still likes to go to thrift stores and she and her friend Carol discuss bands and zines that they like. There's no real time jump. My advice for readers is to not go into this thinking that Andrea will be the same. People change and so do characters. It's natural!
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I purchased this because I was obsessed with Girl as a teen and was totally thrilled to see he had published another book. This book follows Andrea to college and don't get me wrong, I read it straight through. It just didn't have quite the same magic as Girl did.
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Format: Paperback
You read Girl and you loved it. You need to know what happens to Andrea Marr. You can't resist. What I write in this review won't change your mind. You are going to get Dream School and read it. By all means do, but be forewarned.

I read Girl and Dream School back-to-back, and there is no doubt that Girl "wins". Like Girl, Dream School does a great job of accurately portraying a time and place (college/young adult life). The author again masterfully uses the first-person writing style itself to develop the atmosphere and main character. But unlike Girl, Dream School is neither edgy nor insightful. No passages or events really stood out as memorable for me. As a continuation of the story, it largely ignores the history, characters, and themes from the first book, and at times seems to be little more than the author's own autobiography.

Maybe it's my age now compared to then, but I don't see myself re-reading Dream School like I re-read Girl. It just isn't as good. It's not that Dream School is a bad book, it's that Girl is such a tough act to follow that this sequel unfortunately only barely lives up to the original.
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