For seventeen-year-old Janie, getting sucked into other people's dreams is getting old. Especially the falling dreams, the naked-but-nobody- notices dreams, and the sex-crazed dreams. Janie's seen enough fantasy booty to last her a lifetime.
She can't tell anybody about what she does they'd never believe her, or worse, they'd think she's a freak. So Janie lives on the fringe, cursed with an ability she doesn't want and can't control.
Then she falls into a gruesome nightmare, one that chills her to the bone. For the first time, Janie is more than a witness to someone else's twisted psyche. She is a participant....
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
December 9, 2005, 12:55 p.m.
Janie Hannagan's math book slips from her fingers. She grips the edge of the table in the school library. Everything goes black and silent. She sighs and rests her head on the table. Tries to pull herself out of it, but fails miserably. She's too tired today. Too hungry. She really doesn't have time for this.
She's sitting in the bleachers in the football stadium, blinking under the lights, silent among the roars of the crowd.
She glances at the people sitting in the bleachers around her fellow classmates, parents trying to spot the dreamer. She can tell this dreamer is afraid, but where is he? Then she looks to the football field. Finds him. Rolls her eyes.
It's Luke Drake. No question about it. He is, after all, the only naked player on the field for the homecoming game.
Nobody seems to notice or care. Except him. The ball is snapped and the lines collide, but Luke is covering himself with his hands, hopping from one foot to the other. She can feel his panic increasing. Janie's fingers tingle and go numb.
Luke looks over at Janie, eyes pleading, as the football moves toward him, a bullet in slow motion. "Help," he says.
She thinks about helping him. Wonders what it would take to change the course of Luke's dream. She even considers that a boost of confidence to the star receiver the day before the big game could put Fieldridge High in the running for the Regional Class A Championship.
But Luke's really a jerk. He won't appreciate it. So she resigns herself to watching the debacle. She wonders if he'll choose pride or glory.
He's not as big as he thinks he is.
That's for damn sure.
The football nearly reaches Luke when the dream starts over again. Oh, get ON with it already, Janie thinks. She concentrates in her seat on the bleachers and slowly manages to stand. She tries to walk back under the bleachers for the rest of the dream so she doesn't have to watch, and surprisingly, this time, she is able.
That's a bonus.
Janie's mind catapults back inside her body, still sitting at her usual remote corner table in the library. She flexes her fingers painfully, lifts her head and, when her sight returns, she scours the library.
She spies the culprit at a table about fifteen feet away. He's awake now. Rubbing his eyes and grinning sheepishly at the two other football players who stand around him, laughing. Shoving him. Whapping him on the head.
Janie shakes her head to clear it and she lifts up her math book, which sits open and facedown on the table where she dropped it. Under it, she finds a fun-size Snickers bar. She smiles to herself and peers to the left, between rows of bookshelves.
But no one is there for her to thank.
Evening, December 23, 1996
Janie Hannagan is eight. She wears a thin, faded red-print dress with too-short sleeves, off-white tights that sag between her thighs, gray moon boots, and a brown, nappy coat with two missing buttons. Her long, dirty-blond hair stands up with static. She rides on an Amtrak train with her mother from their home in Fieldridge, Michigan, to Chicago to visit her grandmother. Mother reads the Globe across from her. There is a picture on the cover of an enormous man wearing a powder-blue tuxedo. Janie rests her head against the window, watching her breath make a cloud on it.
The cloud blurs Janie's vision so slowly that she doesn't realize what is happening. She floats in the fog for a moment, and then she is in a large room, sitting at a conference table with five men and three women. At the front of the room is a tall, balding man with a briefcase. He stands in his underwear, giving a presentation, and he is flustered. He tries to speak but he can't get his mouth around the words. The other adults are all wearing crisp suits. They laugh and point at the bald man in his underwear.
The bald man looks at Janie.
And then he looks at the people who are laughing at him.
His face crumples in defeat.
He holds his briefcase in front of his privates, and that makes the others laugh harder. He runs to the door of the conference room, but the handle is slippery something slimy drips from it. He can't get it open; it squeaks and rattles loudly in his hand, and the people at the table double over. The man's underwear is grayish-white, sagging. He turns to Janie again, with a look of panic and pleading.
Janie doesn't know what to do.
The train's brakes whine.
And the scene grows cloudy and is lost in fog.
"Janie!" Janie's mother is leaning toward Janie. Her breath smells like gin, and her straggly hair falls over one eye. "Janie, I said, maybe Grandma will take you to that big fancy doll store. I thought you would be excited about that, but I guess not." Janie's mother sips from a flask in her ratty old purse.
Janie focuses on her mother and smiles. "That sounds fun," she says, even though she doesn't like dolls. She would rather have new tights. She wriggles on the seat, trying to adjust them. The crotch stretches tight at mid-thigh. She thinks about the bald man and scrunches her eyes. Weird.
When the train stops, they take their bags and step into the aisle. In front of Janie's mother, a disheveled, bald businessman emerges from his compartment.
He wipes his face with a handkerchief.
Janie stares at him.
Her jaw drops. "Whoa," she whispers.
The man gives her a bland look when he sees her staring, and turns to exit the train.
Copyright © 2008 by Lisa McMann
Reading Group Guide
About the Book
When Janie is eight years old, it happens for the first time: While traveling with her mother, she suddenly blacks out and is plunged into a strange office setting where a balding man is in his ratty underwear, being ridiculed by his coworkers. Janie has somehow been catapulted into the dream of the sleeping man in the seat in front of her. Unable to control her entry into his dream, Janie also has no idea how to speak or help once inside. This scary scene repeats itself over the years. Janie learns to avoid sleepovers, as she finds herself inside the dreams of the other girls, learning things about them that she may have preferred not to know. Then, when she's in high school, the worst situation presents itself: study hall in the library right after lunch. Janie is sucked into the dreams of her classmates some simple and innocent, some frightening, and one featuring herself and the dreamer engaged in a kiss! Janie's gift (or curse) is usually a burden, but now it's more confusing than ever as she gets closer to Cabel, whose dreams include a scary past along with passionate kisses.
About the Author
Lisa McMann has published many short stories, one of which won a Templeton Award. Lisa was born in Michigan and now lives with her family in the Phoenix area. Read more about Lisa at lisamcmann.com, or be her friend at www.myspace.com/lisamcmann.
Would you want to have Janie's gift of entering other people's dreams if you could control it? Why or why not?
Did you guess what Cabel's double life was before it was revealed in the book? Would you be brave enough to take on a job like his?
Did you think that Cabel was really with Shay? Did you think he'd be with Janie in the end or not? How did your feelings for Cabel change as you read the book?
Which of these characters' dreams would you want to have access to: Shay, the Captain, Janie's mom, Stu? Which of your friends' or family members' dreams would you want to enter? Which would you NOT want to enter?
Do you think Carrie was a good friend to Janie? Was Janie a good friend to Carrie? What examples from the book make you say yes or no?
How would the book be different if Janie and Cabel had parents who were loving and present?
If you were telling a friend about Wake, how would you describe it? Is it fantasy or reality? Do you think people like Janie really exist?
Research and Activities
Make a dream journal. Using a blank book and scraps of fabric, markers, stickers, and/or other materials, decorate your dream journal to reflect your personality.
Use your dream journal to write down everything you can remember from your dreams, then, using a dream analysis book, try to figure out what your dreams meant. (This can be done in pairs or in a group and the meanings can be shared at the end.)
Name all of the ways in which Janie's gift could be helpful to the police. What comes next? At the end of Wake, you were treated to a sneak peek of Fade, the sequel. Using that excerpt, write the next chapter or the next few pages of Fade, as you think the story should continue. Share your ideas with your reading group.