I received a copy of Hugo & Rose by Bridget Foley in exchange for an honest review.
Rose is disappointed with her life, though she has no reason to be – she has a beautiful family and a perfectly nice house in the suburbs. But to Rose, this ordinary life feels overshadowed by her other life – the one she leads every night in her dreams.
After a childhood accident, Rose’s dreams take her to a wondrous island fraught with adventure. On this island, she has never been alone: she shares it with Hugo, a brave boy who’s grown up with her into a hero of a man.
But when Rose stumbles across Hugo in real life, both her real and dream worlds are changed forever. Here is the man who has shared all of her incredible adventures in impossible places, who grew up with her, even if they aren’t what either one imagined. Their chance encounter begins a cascade of questions, lies, and a dangerous obsession that threatens to topple everything she knows. Is she willing to let go of everything she holds dear to understand their extraordinary connection? And will it lead her to discover who she truly wants to be?
In all honesty, I’m not quite sure what I think after finishing Hugo & Rose. If I had written this review about twenty pages before the end, I would have said Bridget Foley paints a Technicolor dream world in which her female protagonist taps into the heroine inside. I would have said that Foley’s project, introducing reality to the realm of dreams, is an interesting experiment that allows the reader to wonder, what if dreams could be real or what if the strangers we meet in our sleeping minds could be found in the waking world? I would have said Foley expertly uses the backdrop of dreams to explore the dichotomy of who we are versus who we wish ourselves to be. And while all of these statements are still true, the end of this imaginative novel leaves me—frustrated. While I can’t divulge without spoiling, I want to invite you to delve in and give me your feedback. Does the end make you want to throw the book too? (Extremely problematic when reading on tablet as I was.)
Hugo & Rose is an interesting romp through the subconscious. In Foley’s clever use of the dreamscape to explore waking world issues, she uncovers some rather uncomfortable possibilities. Is the grass actually greener on the other side? Is there any grass there at all? Would we be better versions of ourselves if we could be stronger (smarter, faster, braver, fiercer…) or would we just be different selves faced with different problems with equal ability to grind us down?
There are some great moments here, laugh out loud moments, speak power to truth moments. And yet, I’m left unsettled at the end. I’m left unsatisfied because while the experiment seemed at first so creative, the questions it raises so poignant, the end result seems pedestrian at best. And maybe that is exactly Foley’s point. But, this reader wants more. Still those moments are magical, and I highly recommend dipping into Hugo & Rose.
Rating: 4 stars