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Real Like Daydreams by Julia Wolf ~ Review

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I’m at a loss for where to even begin. I’ve loved this series, and it seems as though Wolf is in a competition to see how much she can outdo herself with each release. Real Like Daydreams wasn’t just outdoing herself, she obliterated the glass ceiling with Julien and Sera’s story. No holds barred, the best book I’ve read all year.

Sera was sunshine and smiles, but how often do we see people hide their pain behind big smiles and a sunny personality? She wasn’t happy; she was, but she was so much more than that. She had some dark times behind her, and as a result, she chose to be a positive influence on anyone’s life she came across. Although some of her character development takes place off-page, Wolf did an amazing job of letting you be a part of those moments, along with seeing this amazing girl come into her own, realizing her worth. I think it’s something we can all take something from.

I’ve been waiting with bated breath for Julien’s book. We saw him throughout the series from other characters’ perspectives, but I couldn’t wait until I was able to spend time inside his head. To say it was more than I imagined would be the understatement of the century. I expected the brooding hero, the man lost inside his head due to the trauma he suffered. Nobody could survive that and not come out the other side as a completely different person.

I’m in awe of the way these characters were portrayed. Fictional characters have never felt more real than Julien and Sera. They both overcame different types of trauma, and seeing the character development and being a part of it, especially when I felt such a strong connection to both, was like a balm to my tattered heart. an inkling of hope that I haven’t felt in a long time.

A connection that began in the shadows, neither of them realizing that the stranger that offered them a sense of comfort would be the person that would light up their world. They were opposites on the outside, sunny and grumpy, but on the inside it was as though the broken parts of each of them fit seamlessly together, offering one another the support they needed in order to heal.

I’m absolutely certain that none of my words will do justice to this story. This isn’t something you simply read, these characters’ emotions, the devastating truths, and glimmers of hope will become embedded in your soul. There’s no walking away as the person you were when you began.

Real Like Daydreams is without a doubt one of the best books I’ve read this year. A compelling blend of intoxicating chemistry, a broody hero, an enlivening heroine, emotionally riveting, heavy topics handled with the heartbreakingly raw truth, glimmers of hope woven through every word, giggle-inducing moments with friends, and hot AF steam. I’ve enjoyed the Savage U series, but there is just something so fundamentally special about Real Like Daydreams. I’m in awe of Wolf’s talent. She plucks you right from reality and inserts you into the world she created. Every emotion, every moment inside her fictional world feels real, like daydreams.

A little real-life tidbit for a better understanding of WHY these characters meant so much to me.

It’s such an odd feeling, seeing two very distinct elements of who you are inside fictional characters. For years, I’ve made it a point to make people laugh whenever possible. I know what it’s like to feel like you’ll never smile again. If I can give someone that, even if only for a second, it soothes an ache inside of me. I’m honestly not even sure if I’ll keep this part in my review or if I’ll end up deleting it. The other part is the bone-deep connection I felt to Julien. Sure, the reasons behind our disability are worlds apart, but the emotions he felt. His thoughts, the things he said out loud, and the things he never put voice to, could have been taken straight from my own mind.

It’s strange to feel more “seen” by characters in a fictional world, but I can assure you that it was very much the case. I too have a disability, one that won’t get better, and as a matter of fact, will only continue to worsen. In medical journals, adhesive arachnoiditis is said to have the pain and agony of stage 4 bone cancer without the relief of death. I’ve stopped telling anyone in real life when my pain gets worse or another symptom makes an appearance. I became their consolation. It was me convincing them everything would be OK. As it continued, I realized I no longer had the strength to deal with other people’s emotions about what was happening to ME.

The reason I’m sharing this extremely personal aspect of my life is to truly get across that Wolf did an astounding job portraying a person with disabilities that I felt compelled to share this information, so when I tell you she did so with the raw, heartbreaking truth in the most respectful way I think I’ve ever come across. There were some other heavy topics, and I felt those were all handled with the same brutal honesty. I abhor it when authors incorporate heavy topics into their books and then gloss over the aftermath of those events. I get it’s fiction, but to gloss over some things is disrespectful to those who have faced those things and come out the other side. Wolf should be applauded for how she respectfully and honestly portrayed these heavy topics.
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