The Daydreams by Laura Hankin
Review,  Contemporary

The Daydreams by Laura Hankin – reunion contemporary fiction

The Daydreams is emotive, realistic, dramatic and fast-paced character-driven reunion contemporary fiction with redemption arc.

reunion contemporary fiction

The Daydreams by Laura Hankin

Publication Date : May 2, 2023

Publisher : Berkley

Read Date : May 18, 2023

Genre : Fiction / Contemporary

Pages : 368

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Disclaimer – Many thanks to publisher for eARC via NetGalley.

Other Books I have read by the Same Author –

Happy & You Know It


A deliciously entertaining novel about the stars of a popular teen show from the early 2000s—and the reunion special, thirteen years after their scandalous flameout, that will either be their last chance at redemption, or destroy them all for good.

Back in 2004, The Daydreams had it all: a cast of innocent-seeming teenagers acting and singing their hearts out, amazing ratings, and a will-they-or-won’t-they romance that steamed up fan fiction forums. Then, during the live season two finale, it all imploded, leaving everyone scrambling to understand why.

Afterward, the four stars went down very different paths. Kat is now a lawyer in Washington, DC. Liana is the bored wife of a famous athlete. Noah, the show’s golden boy, emerged unscathed and is poised to become a household name. And Summer, the object of Noah’s fictional (and maybe real-life) affections, is the cautionary tale.

But now the fans are demanding a reunion special. The stars all have private reasons to come back: forgiveness, revenge, a second chance with a first love. But as they tentatively rediscover the magic of the original show, old secrets threaten to resurface—including the real reason behind their downfall.

Will this reunion be a chance to make things right? Or will it be the biggest mess the world has ever seen? No matter what, the ratings will be wild.


character-driven reunion reunion contemporary fiction

The Daydreams is emotive and realistic character-driven reunion contemporary fiction that revolves around four friends Kat, Summer, Liana, and Noah who met on the set of the teen musical TV show The Daydream as teenagers in 2004 but live show at the end of the second season changed their lives and broke their friendship, and took away their innocence.

Now back in 2018, Kat is lawyer in DC and lives with her boyfriend who wants to propose her; Liana is boring trophy wife of a famous athlete whose life revolves around her husband; Summer is a cautionary tale who got all the hit from what happened thirteen years ago; and Noah is famous Hollywood star and the only person whose life wasn’t affected by what happened.

When fans demand a reunion special, it’s not only fans who want closure and better ending but also the cast, ex-friends. They all have a reason to come back – guilt, forgiveness, redemption, revenge, first love, and a chance to move forward.

It was interesting to read what happened all those years ago, will they get their second chance, or will it turn out the biggest mess.

Writing is captivating, emotive, and flawless. Even though this is contemporary, there is that anxious tone and claustrophobic feel throughout the book along with some lighter moments. The story is told in alternative timeline, present 2018 and past 2004-2005. Most of the story is told from Kat’s perspective but in the second half we get other character’s POVs that added amazing twists and turns to the story. Along with the characters’ perspectives, there is mixed media format like Summer’s journal, tabloids, and interviews, social media discussion, and articles.

Characters are realistic but they all are flawed, complex, and imperfect that makes the plot super dramatic. I still can’t believe how much mess they made. It was hard to like them as they all were at fault at some point and at the same time I wanted them to have better ending and better life after this reunion.

They all came from different backgrounds and were going through different life situations during the TV show. I enjoyed how they met and formed bond and friendship, how much they loved each other and it was sad how things started to go off the rail when Summer’s father died.

Summer was the only one I actually liked and felt sorry for. She was the star of the show, a beautiful face with sunny personality, and idol for many teenagers but it wasn’t her fault she got more attention and people liked her more than other cast. It was heartbreaking to see how much she has to do what other people wanted and expected, keep directors and producers happy and also her friends.

I still can’t believe nobody could understand the real her except Noah. They didn’t even give her time to grieve for her father. It’s no wonder her father’s death, and all expectations and pressure of being a star changed her. She was so much talented and yet she was judged by her innocent look and was expected to stay innocent even though she was growing with feelings and hormones. She didn’t deserve what happened.

Kat is complicated. She was the mean girl on the show and was normal looking person but people were really bad to her for looking normal and judged her based on her character while on the inside she was really good. What she did out of jealousy and based on the illusion of first love and attraction was horrible but in retrospect, it wasn’t her fault. Everyone ignored and compared with Summer. No one knew what she was going through. Her guilt and regret in the present time is touching. I loved how realistic she was even about forgiveness from Summer. I loved her relationship with Miheer and it was tense to see how rocky it became during the Daydream reunion.

Liana is closed book. She is black character of The Daydream and is two years older than the rest of the character. She is a little selfish, and doesn’t believe in outward show of emotions but she sure is loyal and would do anything for her friends so it was little hard to believe why she stood by and didn’t support Summer during live show and in past thirteen years. I couldn’t get why she chose to be trophy wife and made her life all about her husband but as story progressed I could see what she was going through. The revelation about her present life and what happened in past was shocking.

Noah is selfish and made contact with big influential men and was blind to how unfair the men of the industry were to his friends. He used his charms all the time than showing his real self except with Summer. I could see he wasn’t happy with how less control or say he had in his career and yet it was hard to feel for him. I didn’t warm to Noah until his POV and even after that I couldn’t easily trust him and Summer was right not to trust him again.

What I loved most is theme and layers in the story.The representation of teen exploitation in the TV industry, how much industry takes from the actors and gives less, paparazzi and its impact on mental health, teen emotions, stress of stardom, gender and color discrimination, friendship, and first love was amazingly written. I hated the production company in this book for taking so much from these teens making them compete against each other and how it destroyed them on their first mistake, never giving them protection or understanding of their growth or giving them another chance.

There is lots of buildup and the middle portion is a bit slow. (It’s why I didn’t give this full star.) I was dying to know the reason behind what happened and who leaked the journal and I couldn’t guess until it was revealed. I absolutely enjoyed the book. Last 30% of the book were mind-blowing, full of tension and twist and turns. I almost lost the hope for happy ending for all of them but the end is satisfying and unlifiting.

Overall, The Daydreams is emotive, realistic, dramatic and fast-paced character-driven reunion contemporary fiction with redemption arc.

I recommend this if you like,
Redemption arc
reunion fiction
Second chance fiction
love triangle
messy dramatic characters
Friendship and romance
Theme of teen exploitation in the industry

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Hi, I'm Yesha, an Indian book blogger. Avid and eclectic reader who loves to read with a cup of tea. Not born reader but I don't think I’m going to stop reading books in this life. “You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”


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