Title: Hugo & Rose
Author: Bridget Foley
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Pub Date: May 5, 2015
Source: Goodreads First Reads
Rose is by most qualifications an ordinary housewife, except for her dreams. Since childhood, she has always dreamt of the same island, with the same imaginary companion: a brave, heroic boy named Hugo. Rose’s own children now live for tales of Hugo and Rose’s adventures, battling giant spiders and bouncing on the pink sand of the Blanket Pavilion. And each night, after putting her sleepy children to bed, Rose escapes from the monotony of diapers and cracker crumbs to become a more perfect, fully-realized version of herself.
Until one day, Rose stumbles across Hugo in real life, and everything changes. Here is the man who truly knows her, 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?
I’ll start by saying that I finished this book in about three days, despite my life being in high finals mode right now. I was really fascinated by the premise of shared dreams. The beginning of the book struck me as very Rainbow Rowell but also very The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey, an interesting pair.
So it was the magical realist world that really drew me in and made me want to keep reading. By the end though, we’re in a very different world, one that is more than slightly terrifying. And Foley goes through the whole thing with adept phrasing and smooth transitions between narrators. Sometimes the writing is from a kid’s point of view, a remarkable thing to pull off in the first place, and then it transitions back to Rose’s POV with so much grace.
Rose is very critical of herself in this book, to the point where some people have complained they can’t empathize with her. However I did identify especially with that aspect so it worked for me. She’s in a pretty rough patch in her life, and feels like she’s lost. Some days, she wears the same clothes as the day before – because she never changed out of them. Or showered. Oh and also, her preschool age daughter has taken to pooping on the floor of the kitchen.
It only makes sense, then, that Rose’s dreams are a huge part of her life. They’re her escape from the monotony of her routine, and from the judgmental glances of the other moms at her sons’ soccer games. Hugo, as the star of her dreams, thus morphs into a sort of superhero for Rose. She is so taken by their adventures together that her children have been raised on stories of Hugo & Rose. They look up to Hugo as a literal superhero – playing pretend games where they act out some of their mother’s stories.
And then, enter Hugo. Everything gets turned upside down. Rose is confused, her husband is confused, her kids
have no idea what’s happening are confused, and Hugo is confused. Why have they just met each other in the waking world, decades after first meeting in their dreams? Were they meant to be together? And if so, what does that mean for Rose’s family?
I’ll just go ahead and warn you, the ending gets dark. The story ends on a strange note, but the epilogue ties up most loose ends. Reading the epilogue after that mind-blowing and disturbing storyline was extremely relieving. I felt like things ended the way they should have ended.
This book started out whimsical, especially with the chapter numbers written in script and the beautiful typography on the cover. That might be why it threw me off when it turned into a sort of… character-driven psychological thriller. Not that there weren’t warning signs – there were plenty of those. I remember thinking Get out of there, Rose! Over and over in my head when everything started regressing.
This book is definitely a genre-bender. I also want to add trigger warnings for: sexual violence and emotional manipulation/abuse.
About the Author:
Bridget grew up in Littleton, Colorado, the middle child of two absolutely fantastic people who loved her very much and who, on occasion, would let her stay home from her first period Spanish class so they could continue their conversations about European History or whatever seemed interesting that morning.