Dream Factory by Brad Barkley and Heather Hepler (2007)
Teen Fiction | Contemporary | Romance
“When the Disney World character actors go on strike, teens are hired as replacements. Ella is assigned the role of Cinderella simply because the shoes fit. And every afternoon at three o’clock she gets married to Prince Charming. A perfect dream come true, except Ella doesn’t believe in dreams anymore. Meanwhile, Luke is one of the fur characters (Dale, the chipmunk), and his girlfriend, Cassie, plays his counterpart, Chip. Cassie is perfect in every way, so why does Luke want to be with Cinderella? Then Luke and Ella are brought together during a scavenger hunt, and as they uncover the Magic Kingdom’s hidden treasures, they discover an undeniable magic between them. Perhaps dreams really can come true after all?” -Goodreads
pooled ink Review:
I read this book back in high school about…6 years ago? Wow. I don’t want to think about how time has flown by haha. Anyway, this book still sits proudly and glowing pink on my bookshelf and decided it’s high time I wrote a little review about it.
This book is such a cute read laced with threads of pain and self-discovery. Where better to figure out who one is than at Disney World, a place of illusion?
Disney as the setting was perfect for this story and it was also a ton of fun to read and learn more about. Behind-the-scenes tidbits, fun facts, and employee relationships give us a much-desired peak behind the seamlessly perfect veil that is Disney World.
With two alternating viewpoints we grieve with Ella, sympathize with Luke, glare at Cassie, peek at an old-timer, and smile with Prince Charming (because he just is Prince Charming). A romance, of course, blossoms between the sad and quiet Ella and the witty clown Luke as their paths cross. One may be a princess while the other is a chipmunk but that’s not enough to keep this unlikely pair from being drawn to one another. Finding that somehow they can understand each other better than any of their friends or family they begin down a lighthearted path of friendship, but Disney could never settle for such an ending. No, in true Disney style there is conflict, jealousy, parties, tears, love, and huge fireworks lighting the sky in finale.
Well paced, colorful, tumultuous, adventurous, and fun – this pretty much sums up this lovely little story.
Such a cute read! I adored Ella and Luke, but I also couldn’t help but smile at their friends as well. I loved reading about all the behind-the-façade Disney scenes in particular. I dunno, this was just a book that made my heart smile and also made me want to apply for a job at Disney or even the Disney College Internship. I never did though…oh well. I mean not all of being a Disney employee is glamorous (as we discover throughout the book) but it stills seems fun in its own way.
If you’re looking for a cute, stand-alone, romantic read then Dream Factory is for you. Full of dreams, heartbreak, and the Florida sweat beneath the mask, this book will whisk you away on what begins as a stupid summer job and sparkles into an enchanted summer tale.
P.S. When you find out Luke’s full name you will grin for sure! I love it!
Purchase here: Dream Factory
Meet Brad Barkley!
BRAD BARKLEY, a native of North Carolina, is the author of the novel, Money, Love, a Barnes and Noble “Discover Great New Writers” selection and a “BookSense 76” choice. Money, Love was named one of the best books of 2000 by the Washington Post and the Library Journal. His novel Alison’s Automotive Repair Manual was also a “BookSense 76” selection. His short fiction has appeared in over two dozen magazines, including Southern Review, Georgia Review, the Oxford American, Glimmer Train, Book Magazine, and the Virginia Quarterly Review, which twice awarded him the Emily Balch Prize for Best Fiction. His work was anthologized in New Stories from the South: The Year’s Best, 2002. He has won four Individual Artist Awards from the Maryland State Arts Council, and a Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. He is also the co-author of two Young Adult novels.
Meet Heather Hepler!
I was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan, which I think is one of the cooler places to be born, because initially people think I’m being funny—like I’m saying I was born on the moon, but then they see I’m actually being serious. It feels like since then I’ve lived nearly everywhere (well, only in the US—which is a bummer because I want to travel so much).
I spent the first part of college in Alaska, which was amazing. The first time I saw Northern Lights, I thought I was imagining it. I just couldn’t get my head around the idea that something so beautiful existed in the real world. That’s when I first started writing. This was my bad poetry phase. I think it was the combination of living there with long very cold winters and being in love with a guy that barely knew I existed that made me do it. People ask me all the time if I write poetry. I wish I could and maybe I will someday, but for now I am firmly a fiction writer.