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Overheard in a Dream - Torey L. Hayden

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Author: Torey L. Hayden / Paperback / 464 Pages / Book is published 2008-06-02 by Harper

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    7 Reviews
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      10.05.2011 20:11
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      definately worth a read!

      I borrowed this book from my Auntie for my holiday, as there is nothing better than sunbathing with a good book.
      I am a huge Torey Hayden fan and I have read most of her true story books, whereas this one is a little different, this is a Novel. I tend to be put off books when I find out they aren't true, but being a fan of Torey Hayden I thought I'd give this one a go.

      This is one book that definitely took me a while to get into. Once I get into a book it is hard for me to put it down so I usually read it within a few days of the holiday, whereas I found myself reading for the sake of it, hoping it got better. Well, let's just say it did get better. After a few days of picking up and putting down the book I finally got into it. I would say it took me about 100 pages into the book before I came to understand and enjoy it.
      The Story
      This is about a family who have several struggles going on in their lives. They have a 9 year old son Connor who has been diagnosed with Autism and is being haunted by the 'ghostman'. His Mum Laura is a famous author who is struggling to come to terms with this, and finding it hard to cope. Her husband Alan, is trying to keep his son from being institutionalized aswell as trying to keep his family together. They also have another daughter Morgana who starts playing with the 'truth'.
      The other main character in this story is James. He is a psychiatrist who is brought in to try and help Connor and the family. He becomes very involved with the family and starts to unearth some secrets about them. We also learn more about his own family life. He has two children with his ex-wife who come to stay with him regularly.

      The Plot
      The reason I found this story hard to get into was because their are several things going on at once. We know that Laura has a very vivid imagination which she wrote down on paper. These stories are included and printed in Italics so we know when we are reading one of these. The stories are imaginary stories which involve a girl named Torgon, the Dwr, The Power, Mogri and are all based around their lives, which have their own rules, religions and cultures. As I am not much of a fan of this type of story on it's own, when I saw the italics coming up, I'd frown and try to get through it as fast as I could. However the more into the story I got the more I realized how vital these stories are to the main plot of the story.
      James is a psychiatrist who likes to involve all of the family and listen to what they have to say. When he finally persuades Laura to attend one of his sessions, we begin to hear an account of her life which had its ups and downs and was influenced by Torgon. We hear about her life as a small child being fostered and growing up with four brothers, the story then unfolds to her adult life and the trials and tribulations she then faces, which again also become influenced by Torgon.
      At the same time the story still concentrates on James sessions with Connor who we start to see making improvements both in the playroom and at home to his Dad's delight. The story also included Alan's sessions with James and Morgana's.

      Without giving to much away, the story definitely gets better the more you read it, and I was definitely impressed by the ending, it was unexpected and exciting to read. The way Torey Hayden makes you have links with the characters you become involved with them and have emotive feelings towards them. She is definitely able to tap into our own imaginations and I think it is a truly fascinating story with a superb ending.
      Even though it took me a while to get into the story, the first thing I did when I got back from my holiday (well the first thing I did was sleep after I got in at 5am, but after that) picked up the story so I could finish the last few pages I hadn't been able to read. I would recommend that if you are a Torey Hayden fan then you read it because you do forget that it is a Novel you are reading.

      This was Torey Haydens first Novel and I think she did a great job and I'm sure there are lots more to come from her.
      Book Info:
      Title- Overheard in a Dream
      Author- Torey Hayden
      Publisher- HarperCollins, 2008
      ISBN- 978-0-00-726903-5
      Pages- 460

      Recommended Price- £6.99
      Amazon Price- £4.68 (Free Delivery)

      For more information on Torey Hayden- www.myspace.com/torey_hayden

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        10.01.2010 15:20
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        Strongly recommended to everyone

        First published in 2008
        460 pages

        Torey hayden is an educational psychologist and a special education teacher and normally writes about her experiences with the children she worked very close with. If you have read any of her books before, you may think the same as me, that she is very repetitive in many of her books, which quickly becomes boring. However, this book moves away from this and becomes more of a novel.

        ~The story~
        The book starts with Conor who is a nine year old boy and has been referred to James (a psychiatrist) through his doctor. He had been diagnosed as having Autism. However, after James had been having regular sessions with Conor, he believes that he was wrongly diagnosed with Autism, and is instead terrified of an event that had happened when he was just a toddler.

        James then starts having regular sessions with Conor's mum, Laura, who quickly confides in James about her imaginary friend, not just as a child but through into her adult life. James finds this friend, caled Torgon, very intriguing and soon becomes gripped with Laura's accounts of Torgon and the community in which she lives. He is also bewildered with how a child can create such a vivid imaginary friend. It is almost as though Torgon is another human being, and Laura is able to see everything that is happening in Torgon's life.

        Laura also confides in James some of her past relationships, mainly her ex Fergus who believed that Torgon was Laura's spirit guide. We soon learn, as a reader, that Fergus is very controlling and possessive and will stop at nothing to get Laura back. But this is his downfall. Is Torgon imaginary? Has Conor really seen something as a toddler that has affected him so much he has been diagnosed with Autism? And how does Conor's sister, Morgana, fit into this? Who is her 'imaginary friend'?

        ~My opinion~
        I am not going to explain this book anymore as it will give away one of the best stories I think I have ever read. I would strongly recommend anyone to read this book, especially if you have read her previous books, or if you enjoy authors such as Jodi Picoult as the stories are written in the same way.

        I have already this book about a year ago, but I was very happy to go back to it and read it all over again. And the best part is that I was still shocked at the ending, even though I'd read it before!

        I hope that Torey Hayden has many more novels to write - I will definately buy them all!

        ~~~~~ Review also on Ciao under the same name, amylou-86 ~~~~~

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          06.08.2009 15:13

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          Overall a great read

          In a lot of ways this is a literary masterpiece.

          It's about a troubled little boy with symptoms of autism, who is taken by his father to see a child psychologist, against his mother's wishes. The child appears to be haunted by a "ghost", but due to his erratic speech and general behaviour it is near-impossible for the psychologist to get to the root of the problem.

          So he decides to bring in the child's father, mother and even his sister for family therapy, and the more he hears, the more complicated the problem seems to be.

          The mother is a successful author, and running alongside the story of the boy is a fantasy tale that the mother wrote years ago, based on her childhood imaginary friend.

          The novel is intelligent, thought-provoking and fascinating.

          However, it is let down by a worrying amount of typos, which I found distracting. I don't know if that was just the edition I had, but there is no excuse for a successful, published novelist to have typos in their books.

          Nevertheless, I did get a lot of pleasure from reading this and would recommend it to other people interested in child psychology.

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          09.07.2009 21:07
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          An account of reality combined with fantasy

          Overheard in a Dream is Torey Hayden's first novel after a series of books detailing her career as an educational psychologist and specialist education teacher. Her usual style is autobiographical, but this novel steps away from her experiences and unravels the story of Connor, a boy diagnosed with autism from an early age and who fails to improve in specialist schools.

          Hayden's style of writing is gripping. She uses the characters to tell the story but it is obvious that to some extent she has incorporated some of her personal experience and knowledge into the text. This novel not only had me wondering how Connor and his family would progress, but also took me to a completely different realm with Torgon, a fictional goddess of type whose story also unravels as the novel moves forward.
          Characters;

          James is a child psychiatrist who has left his ex wife and two children, Mickey and Becky in New York and moved to South Dakota to run his own practice. His children visit in holidays and during their visits the reader learns about their own lives and how their mother is moving on having a new partner who the children grow to dislike. James works on the basis that the room is that of the client and therefore anything goes. "You decide" is his key phrase and that goes with both children and adults. He allows the client to do as they please; he then interacts with them asking them key questions or noting down behavioural patterns.
          Connor is a 9 year old boy diagnosed as a toddler with autism. His parents have had to take him out of a school for autistic children and are trying a new method in sending him to James. For Connor, on arrival it is clear his needs are great, he makes noises rather than speaks words and his stuffed cat and string and foils around his waist are his safety net, with "the cat knows" being his main verbal interaction initially. However, it is also clear that Connor is an extremely intelligent child who is aware of his surroundings.

          Laura Deighton is Connor's mother, a very complex character whose whole life story is told throughout the novel. Laura is a writer whose background hasn't been told to her husband in great detail. During Laura's sessions with James she discloses her childhood and the fantasy woman or goddess that is Torgon who stayed with her through childhood and into adulthood. Torgon being such an important aspect of Laura's life that she began to manipulate the story and use the vision for financial gain this in turn led to friends she never had an a boyfriend who is quite clearly suffering with mental health problems from quite early on in the novel but the extent of which are only revealed nearer the end of the book. Laura's story under-rides Connor's but Hayden makes it work, she makes them interlink. Laura is oblivious to her son's ability and his progress, she doesn't see him as a child who need support but as a child who is badly behaved and cannot change. She doesn't talk about her son in therapy instead concentrating on her past.
          Alan is Connor's father a normal guy with a ranch, who wants the best for his wife and children but simply cannot cope with the stresses of home and who has distanced himself from his wife in the home that he can help Connor and rebuild the family he loves. Alan is supportive of his son and does not dismiss him, he listens and he encourages and aside of James, Alan is the only other person to acknowledge that Connor is getting better as the novel unfolds.

          Morgana is Connor's younger sister, as James encourages therapy for the whole family in order to help Connor; Morgana also has sessions with the child's psychiatrist. You can see that throughout the novel Morgana's desire is for a normal brother to play with and to protect her. She divulges information to James which assists him in piecing together the family story and also gives Morgana and insight into Connor's progress when he brings them both in for a joint session.
          Torgon; Torgon came to Laura when she was outside this woman with long silky black hair, a vision which had to be followed, as Laura moved forward Torgon led her to the Forest and to a realm which would take over her life forever. Torgon was the Benna of the Forest, a person of low working caste who was chosen as the holy one to serve Dwr. Thought of a divine by the village people and an "embodiment of God". Her role as the Benna meant being with the Seer and carrying out Dwr's wishes. As the Benna, Torgon was to cut all contact with her family and move from the village into the compound where the holy lived and were served by acolytes. They had their own language and their own rules. This was all seen by Laura who as a child knew that Torgon wasn't real but couldn't let her go.

          Torgon came to Laura when she was a child just short of 8 years old. The visions stayed with her into her twenties and as a young women Laura documented them, writing them as stories, stories which are re-read throughout this novel; the underlying cause of Connor's problems arise from the world created around Torgon. The written work of Laura is extremely graphic for a child so young and the visions she had were also graphic, to the point where she was witnessing a completely different world as if she were there. This is fundamental to the novel because it is Torgon's world which makes the story so compelling and its Torgon's involvement which keeps the reader seeking more answers and an explanation as to how it is important.

          As James works with the Deighton family he unravels many problems and family secrets which have not been shared before. He discovers a family whose lives have continued despite underlying problems not being addressed. He finds a boy who is not autistic at all and whose extreme intelligence and lack of communications skills has led to a misdiagnosis.

          I would recommend this, Torey Hayden's first novel to anybody. It differs from her autobiographical work in that whilst it does concentrate on the work of a specialist it moves on from the child and acknowledges the wider family, something which hasn't really happened in her previous books. For me the novel is well structured. It concentrates linking the reality with the fantasy and is successful in doing so. Hayden uses chapters and asterisks to divide the chapters when moving on. This works really well because the novel is telling the story of two families or 5 key characters which could become very complicated if not written properly.

          The majority of chapters are manageable at 8/9 pages long and there are 46 chapters in total. I found that I forgot the chapters and would continue reading before realising how much I had read, until I became so engrossed that I read 20 chapters completed the book and realised it was 2am and I had work in the morning.

          I would like to think that this has given an insight into this novel and made you want to read it without giving too much away. The plot is great and with a well written twist at the end which I am not going to even touch on in the review because it will spoil your enjoyment of the book should you know the end.

          Posted Originally on Ciao under Carysb>

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            06.01.2009 01:07
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            Wonderfull book

            I bought this book after spotting in the local supermarket and as a HUGE Torey Hyaden fan I was very surprised not to have heard of it.
            When I began reading it I was quite shocked at how unlike her other books it was.
            Firstly Torey Hayden writes about her experiances with some very troubled children whilst working as a special needs teacher and she has wrote some truely amazing books.
            The first thing I noticed about this book was that it didn't seam to feature Torey herself. It's actually written from a third person point of view about another male working with a troubled child. After re-reading the back cover I also discovered that this is actually fiction also whereas her other books are based on true facts.
            When I realised this I was originally a little dissapointed but as it was Torey Hayden and I love her writing I thought I would give the book a chance.
            By the second chapter I was absolutely hooked, the book is fantastically written and captures you right from the very start. The storyline unfolds very well and it leaves you laughing, crying and gasping with shock right to the last page.
            I would recomend this book to anyone as it is a fantastic book in a long line of other fantastic books from an author in a class of her own.
            To anyone who has not yet read a Torey Hayden book, you don't know what you are missing so pick one up asap.

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            06.11.2008 13:52
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            A page turner.

            Torey Hayden is best known for her autobiographical works such as One Child which chart her career as a special needs teacher. Overheard In A Dream is her first fictional book to be published in the UK although it has previously been published under the title The Mechanical Cat in Sweden, Italy, Finland and Japan.

            James is a recently divorced child psychiatrist living hundreds of miles from his own children. He is intrigued by the case of a nine year old boy he is treating. Conors life is dictated by a bizarre set of rules and rituals; he does not make eye contact and barely communicates with those around him. He is trailed by the wires he must wear in order to feel safe and accompanied at all times by a stuffed cat who scans the environment around him while Conor repeats the phrase "the cat knows".

            James realises Conors symptoms are not those of classical autism and decides the whole family need to come to therapy to get to the root of the problem. Alan, his father is a rancher who is bewildered by his sons behaviour. His sister Morgana seems to have some understanding of her brothers behaviour but his mother Laura, a famous novelist, is a cold woman with little interest in her son.

            As Laura opens up during the therapy sessions she reveals details of her own painful childhood and the contents of her old diaries to James. It is clear she has a vivid imagination and during times of stress retreats into a dream world called Torgon with its own laws and customs.

            Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction and the real world and dream worlds collide. Laura is hiding a dark secret and Conor is correct when he says "The Cat Knows".

            I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked this book up but I'm pleased to say that it surpassed my expectations. The cover picture and the blurb on the back led me to believe that the book would be about the treatment of an autistic child but the contents were very different. The mixing of real and fantasy worlds is a very novel idea for a story and the threads mingle together well giving a well rounded plot with lots of twists and turns. Hayden uses her previous knowledge of working with autistic children really well to make the character of Conor and the therapy situation believable.

            The development of the world of Torgon and its characters was a fascinating twist and opened up the whole idea of alternate realities and the difference between reality and fantasy. Can we make things real simply by imagining them strongly enough?

            Some of the characters in the book are a bit weak and stereotyped. Alan for example is the typical unemotional and practical cowboy while James is the child psychiatrist who cannot maintain a relationship with his own children. I found I really disliked James as a character, he left his own children behind in order to find himself and I thought that a man who was so clueless about his own childrens need for a father figure to be present in their everyday lives had no business working with other damaged families. I didn't like the fact that he used outings with his own children as a means to building a relationship with his young patients, an act which in reality which would be highly unethical. Laura was a complex and interesting character, I started off disliking her selfishness but grew to like her as I got to know more of her past and understand her motivations more.

            Overall this is a great book, the complex story will draw you in and you will want to keep reading. It's a book which will give much food for thought and will keep the reader guessing even after the story ends. It's a book that also begs to be read a second time to tie up all the questions that reading it the first time presented.

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              27.08.2008 14:57
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              Recommended

              Torey Hayden is qualified as an Educational psychologist and special education teacher. She also does charity work with a variety of groups: Childline, NSPCC and the Samaritans to name a few.

              Overheard in a dream is about Conor, a 9 year old autistic child. Before Conor is taken to a therapist, he seems high functioning and has been away at school. However the school feels they can't do anything for him, but his father is happy about that and doesn't feel he should be sent away. His mother, a famous novelist has a vivid imagination. At the centre of the family is a secret that throws the family into a mystery. Who is the ghost that is haunting Conor and making him so scared? Are Conors autistic behaviours symptomatic of something else? James, the therapist, delves into the family history and is shocked at what he finds.

              This book isn't normally something I wouldn't normally pick up in a book shop. Firstly, the cover isn't something I would go for, because I think it looks like it'll be one of the 'hard luck' stories that are popular at the moment. Also the blurb on the back doesn't really do justice to how gripping this book really is.

              The way Torey Hayden has written this novel, reality is entwined with imagination which keeps you guessing what happens right to the end. Parts of the story are the imagination of Laura, Conors mum, in the world she creates from her mind. This world has it's own people, laws, religion etc. It's written in a different style and keep the story going. That made me like this book and find it more interesting than any of the others I have read recently because of how it combines fantasy and reality and leaves you guessing.

              When I first started the book I wasn't sure how you could really question a diagnosis of autism and I think that was one of the factors that kept me going on this novel. Conor displays symptoms of autism and was diagnosed at the age of 2, where he had been developing above average to other children of his age. Conor has to use his stuffed cat as a scanner to check that everything is safe, and he can't go anywhere without his 'wires' i.e. tin foil around him and bits of wire hanging down.

              I liked the character of Laura in this book because she always seemed a bit mysterious, and until you read the end, you feel that the therapist is scratching the surface of something that goes far deeper than we hear about. Not just her behaviour as a child and the books she writes but also why she feels she can't cope with Conor. The character I was most fascinated by was Conor because since I have studied autism and childhood development disorders it really kept me hooked to the end.

              This book is priced £3.44 on amazon and is available in tesco for a similar price; although the RRP is £6.99.

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