Wake Me Up Inside: Lee Bice-Matheson
Nightmare can often trigger memories that many would prefer to remain dormant. Others can ignite or fuel and event that might change the course of the way we think or our lives in the future. As Paige Maddison descends into a world that seems foreign to her, filled with forest trees, scratches caused by errant branches she focuses on her appearance, what she is wearing and the warmth and comfort of where she really is turns to fear and desperation as she clings to the hope of surviving. Heart racing, time slowing down and this young girl found herself staring at the face of a boy who appeared to be lying in a coffin. So graphically described and vividly depicted the reader becomes totally enveloped in the nightmare along with Maddison experiencing the same things, seeing the same horrors and viewing this young man appearing in his final repose. But, just when she thought the dream might end something happens that would haunt her not only now but in the future as well. A young girl appears out of nowhere stopped and stares at her and then her real world begins to come into focus. Hands cold and clammy she tries to regain her composure and falls back into an unsettling sleep. Wake Me Up Inside is a story that focuses on Paige Maddison whose nightmares will haunt her and whose visions of this young girl will in her dreams.
As she daylight comes upon her she hears her mother’s voice reminding her to get up for school. But, the day has yet to begin and her dream becomes more of a reality as she discusses her father’s upcoming speech to her class, the move to an estate called O’Brien Manor to take care of her grandfather who is ill and the vision of this young girl who appears within the halls of her school. But, not only does the Principal of her school notice something off about her but so does her father notice how pale and drawn she appears as she once again shares her next dream, this time wearing her fancy dress but the setting is the same forest and the dogs or hounds are following her as she once again tries to escape. But, something happens this time that alerts her parents that there might be something wrong with Paige as her mother awakens her for school and she appears more than just troubled. Added in they now bring to light their move, how she feels and why an emotional scene that brings this family even closer. But, whether they realize it or not Paige is having problems and as she alone relates to the reader, “Dreams seemed to rule my life, lately,” she states but what will moving bring and will things change? As they leave for her grandparent’s home not only does her mother have feelings of trepidations but also so does Paige. Arriving would only highlight things even further as her first impression is quite remarkable and the Manor quite both impressive and creating an eerie feeling within her and her mother. Having been estranged from her parents for many years this was her first visit back to her home and finding herself there was quite unsettlingly to Lori, Paige’s mother. Added in as Paige begins to explore this Manor House something happens that creates a chill within her body and causes her family to become alarmed. But, what happens next when she leaves the Manor and meets a young man named Brad will definitely alert the reader to the knowledge that not everything is what it appears to be and that more unusual or paranormal happens still await our main character.
Bradley Adam Parkman seems to have the scoop on what is happening in this estate and their strange but fast friendship will take them within this huge manor, exploring the estate and the experiences that they encounter will rock their inner most core and not be revealed to anyone.
As we get to know the family a little better our narrator Paige with the help of her new friend enlightens the reader in many ways. The house has some secrets hidden within its walls, her grandparents are not revealing everything and the truth behind their estrangement comes out. But, why does Paige seem uneasy every time she tries to fall asleep? What about the ceiling and the light feeling that there are angel’s watching over everyone? What is the spirit that seems to live in this house? Is this house cursed or is there an evil being that is lurking around and haunting it?
Author Lee Bice-Matheson introduces two teens that every parent would be proud of yet are still typical teens. Paige is bright, respectful yet speaks her mind when necessary and Bradley is kind, supportive and quite the match for her. As the author uses Paige’s dreams and innermost thoughts to describe the events and the surroundings. Some are told in the first person whereas others in the third person narrative keeping the reader transfixed, focused and wondering what else is going to happen, the mystery and suspense is palpable throughout the novel as Paige hopes to learn the truth and solve the mystery before it’s too late.
Then the author enlightens us as to the identity of the young girl that Paige sees on the staircase as well as another spirit that wants to remain unseen. While these two spirits decide on their next venture Paige and her mother explore the manor and the amazing porcelain dolls that Paige sees and more then something happens that causes Paige to realize that just maybe everything is not what it really seems.
The author allows Paige to explore the grounds and vividly describes her surrounds that if you close your eyes you can create your own mental picture and join Paige as she explores the all of the area surrounding the estate. But, there is so much more to this story as one family that has been divided for so long just might find their way back together again. One young teen discovers many truths about her grandparents and her mother that will either force them farther apart or bond them even more. As Paige and her mother explore the room filled with dolls, she then finds her way to a cottage where she comes face to face with the image she has been seeing in her dreams.
As Paige requests space to take photos and perfect her craft as a photographer once again she finds herself wandering the grounds, looking at every flower and bird but then she sees an angel with wings and what happens next you just won’t believe. As you look at the artistically crafted cover of the book you see the angel resting and wonder just whom that might be and whether she is connected to Paige in some way. Where does Brad come into play and what exactly does he know that has not been revealed to Paige?
As the gap between generations might be narrowed the one young man seems angered by the joy that Paige exhibits when she sees her new studio. What is the problem that this spirit has and why are they living in the Manor? As another truth is revealed we learn more about the Manor House its connection to another family and the path that one spirit intends to take but why still has not been revealed.
When Paige finds herself within the confines of this long lost cemetery again she comes upon a stone tablet, which sets her mind in motion. As she and Bradley explore some more, find an inscription on the stone and then suddenly Paige senses something is wrong with her grandfather but does not know why? Will she be able to find the answers to this mystery that has been hidden for years? What is the family secret that no one has revealed and will this spirit that wants to play games with those living here win or will Paige stop it cold?
On page 74 the author brilliantly includes the poem: Alone by Edgar Allan Poe to add more to the mystery behind why the evil spirit is trying to destroy and hurt Paige’s family and who the primary target is. The spirit also explains the past, why he is angry and as the poem if you take it apart talks about death, an evil spirit and is carved on the stone tablet that Paige found in the cemetery. One spirit is happy to live freely in the manor while the other seems to feel alone within him or inside. As one spirit understands her fate the other appears to not be able to reconcile how he cannot do things as he did before and feels isolated and Alone. Experiencing life as before is no longer an option and creates a sadness within the reader and more within each of the characters as Paige, Bradley and even the spirits have to learn how to deal with loneliness, sadness, isolation and love. The magnificent descriptions of the mountains, the sun, the sky evoke emotions that can relate to joy, anger or even sorrow. Poe was different and he did not feel that he belonged at times. As we come to the emotional ending and the surprises plus revelations it holds we often reflect that Poe might have used the word “mystery,” to define the unknown or in this poem the dark cloud or threat cast over the family by this spirit who felt isolated an alone.
Just what caused her grandfather’s illness you will learn for yourself when you read the ending and find out just who spirit was awaken from inside and what the fate of this family will be. This is the first in the Paige Maddison series and when you read the final sentences you will know: Snap: Click: Check out the final photo for yourself and feel the chill. This is one book that all YA’s, teens and middle school children will enjoy reading as Paige and Bradley fight and race to save the fate of someone she loves as one young girl and many adults learn the true meaning of love, family, loyalty and friendship.
Fran Lewis: reviewer