The Dreamer is the story of Neftali Reyes, the Chilean boy
who grows up to become author Pablo Neruda. Neftali grows up with his stepmother,
older brother, younger sister, and overbearing father who is abusive in almost
every way. Neftali is painfully shy and has difficulty talking to anyone outside his
family. He is a very smart boy, though, and loves exploring new things and
expressing himself through words. He grows up rather frail, and his father
tries most everything (including almost drowning him in the ocean) to get him
to "man up" and become a doctor. However, as he grows up, Neftali decides he
would rather become a poet and write on behalf of the Mapuche – a peoples being
exiled from their own land by the government – and in doing so, changes his
name to Pablo Neruda to protect himself.
I cannot see this book being popular with children, as there
is really no adventure or mystery. However, I do feel the book is something teachers could use as a lesson about
Chilean culture, or fighting for a cause in which one believes.