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Literature / Dreamspeaker

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Dreamspeaker is a Canadian Novel by Anne Cameron written under the pen name Cam Hubert.

Peter Baxter is an 11 year-old boy who has never had a stable home life. He's been bounced from foster home to foster home, and at least one of his foster moms left him to starve and wouldn't take him to the doctor. Now he's in an Institution with a lot of other boys who don't really think much of him. He's also been haunted by some snake-like creature, which follows him everywhere he goes.

One day, Peter runs away from the Institution and hops a train to someplace far away. While running from the snake thing, Peter meets two First Nations men who take him into their home. This gives Peter, for the first time in his life, a family.

The book was published in 1978.


Dreamspeaker contains examples of:

  • All of the Other Reindeer: When Peter first gets to the Institution, the other boys there make it clear they don't like him.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Peter, the shaman, and He Who Would Sing are all dead (Peter and He Who Would Sing from suicide, and the shaman from old age), but they are now together in the afterlife.
  • Bring My Brown Pants: Peter isn't toilet trained. As a result, he tends to pee in his pants.
  • Driven to Suicide: Peter and He Who Would Sing. Peter hangs himself at the Institution, and He Who Would Sing blows his own head off with a shotgun after the shaman dies.
  • Ironic Name: He Who Would Sing can't even talk, let alone sing. Subverted in the end, when he is singing loudly in the afterlife.
  • Multiple Head Case: Sisiutl is a snake with a head at each end of its body.
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  • Name That Unfolds Like Lotus Blossom: One of the First Nations guys who takes Peter in is named "He Who Would Sing".
  • One-Word Title: Naturally.
  • The Runaway: Peter. He runs away from the Institution early on in the book.
  • Sizeshifter: Sisiutl has the power to change its size, possible based on how afraid its prey is of it.