Every night, Zack is plagued by bizarre recurring nightmares—what if his dream world is trying to tell him something?
Zack has never fit in with the rest of his family, and for as long as he can remember, he has experienced strange nightmares of a shadowy man. His therapist, Nancy, says these dreams are his subconscious mind’s way of trying to reveal something, but Zack isn’t so sure. After all, what could nightmares filled with tigers and apple orchards possibly mean? Luckily, he has the beautiful new girl at school to take his mind off his troubles.
For his final assignment in art class, Zack is tasked with showing the darkest depths of his soul, and he knows that his nightmares are the perfect subject for a painting. But when a long-repressed memory from his childhood suddenly surfaces, Zack’s life is thrown into turmoil, and he discovers everything he thought about his family is based on a lie. Zack must finally confront his past before he can have a future free of the secret that haunts him.
Beneath Zachary Lloyd's calm, self-assured demeanor lie intimations of terror which surface only in nightmares. With the help of a therapist, the high school senior is able to connect symbols from his dreams (tigers, apple orchards, a ghost-like figure) to deeply buried secrets from childhood--chiefly, his mother's false proclamation that their father is dead. This novel about self-discovery is perhaps the most psychologically taut of Sweeney's books ( The Dream Collector ; Face the Dragon ). Readers will be hooked from the very first paragraph--a vivid description of one of Zack's dreams. Scenes of Zack's daily life--for example, his exchanges with his sexy girlfriend and with his outwardly saintly mother--are cross-cut with Zack's flashbacks, and these build climactically toward Zack's eventual reunion with his father. Although the fate of the formerly down-and-out alcoholic Mr. Lloyd may seem a little too miraculous, the warmth and tenderness between son and long-lost father remain touching and convincing. Sweeney's absorbing drama reveals remarkable insight into family relationships and human nature. Ages 12-up.