It’s bad enough that Alice and her family moved back to Cincinnati from Chicago. It’s bad enough that she’s bullied at high school. It’s bad enough that she has to share a room with her older brother. But what makes it all unbearable is the fact that each night, just as she’s sinking into a deep sleep, Alice is woken by nightmares—and to make it even worse, the nightmares aren’t her own.
While the first few pages of this sweet, slightly superficial one-off graphic novel make clear that Alice is able to see another person’s dreams if she is sleeping near them, this fantastical ability of hers is never actually explained. Instead, the story moves right along at a quick and engrossing clip, introducing Alice’s family and her main concerns, building up a backstory, conflicts, and climax, and resolving it all in short order. Originally from Cincinnati, the Heroux family—Alice’s mom is black, her dad is white; she and her brother both have light brown skin and hair in varying degrees of curliness/kinkiness—returns after Mr. Heroux loses his job. Though Alice hates being back in Cincinnati and is bullied by an interracial group of mean girls at school, a silver lining is her reunion with her best friend Jamie, a white cis young man. A mystery begins to reveal itself when Alice’s mother confesses that her sister disappeared so long ago that she presumes her dead, Jamie finds a box of old letters hidden behind his father’s record collection, and Alice swears she glimpses a woman at the bottom of a cemetery pond.
With the help of a friendly school counselor, family truth-telling, and the use of Alice’s special powers, all that was once hidden is revealed by the end of the book, and the various characters continue on with their lives mostly for the better. The graphic novel is a straightforward one, including, but not digging in too deep, to themes of family secrets and friendship. The art depicts characters of many body sizes and races, and interracial friendships/other relationships are depicted as loving, supportive, and normal. The one exception to this rule serves as the anchor for the book’s mystery, but in both this case and the clearly positive ones, race is never explicitly addressed by the text.
With its identifiable characters, fast-moving plot, and richly drawn and colored illustrations, Alice: From Dream to Dream is a worthy recommendation for young adult readers—whether they’re reluctant or enthusiastic readers, familiar with graphic novels or new to the format, many teens will find this page turner an engrossing escape into fantastically-tinged realism.
Alice: From Dream to Dream
By Giulio Macaione
Art by Giulio Macaione Giulia Adragna Jim Campbell
Boom! Box, 2018