Beatrice Whaley, protagonist of Lora Innes' webcomic The Dreamer, never cared much for the rich history of her Massachusetts town, until one night when she closed her eyes and found herself in the middle of the American Revolution. Now every time she sleeps, she's caught up in the drama, romance, and terror of men fighting for American Independence, and her sleeping life becomes far more important than her waking one.
Bea Whaley's senior year is off to a great start. She's got good friends. She's the star of her drama club, and Ben Cato, the dreamboat football players she's been in love with since freshman year, finally likes her back. But that's nothing compared to the excitement she feels when she falls asleep. When she sleeps, she's still Beatrice Whaley, but she's the Beatrice of more than 200 years ago, the daughter of a Tory who has fallen for a wealthy apple farmer with dreams of American sovereignty.
Alan Warren is an American rebel whose love of country may be trumped only by his love of young Beatrice. He risks everything to rescue her from her British abductors, and is determined to see her safe for the rest of the war, even if she doesn't remember who he is. Traveling to 1776 may give Beatrice a backstory, but it's a history of which she has no memory.
At first, the dreams seem little more than that—sexy, adventurous dreams. But as she gets more caught up in her nocturnal revolutionary escapades, Bea starts to believe that she's really traveling back in time. The more engrossed she becomes in the past, however, the more she finds herself neglecting her present: sniping at her friends, ditching school, and running hot and cold with her new beau, all so she can get way too much shuteye.
And who could blame her? Innes quickly recognizes that the Revolutionary War is far richer and more interesting setting than Bea's suburban high school, and the bulk of the first few hundred pages of The Dreamer are set in the past—to the point where the conceit of a dreamer from our present seems extraneous, a pointless hook to steer us to a piece of romantic historical fiction. But gradually, the story begins to turn darker. During her first few visits to the past, Bea was coasting on her meager knowledge of American history. (She's too poor a student even to know that bad things are in store for her new pal Nathan Hale.) But she soon learns that war means death, and realizes that her miraculous ability to access Wikipedia may give the rebels an edge with minimal risks to the people in the past she's come to love. However, getting enough sleep to aid the past may mean risking her life in the present—socially, emotionally, and perhaps even physically.
Even before it turns into a bona fide time-travel story, however, The Dreamer is thoroughly enjoyable as a historical romance, one that casts the likes of Alexander Hamilton and George Washington as bit players while exploring love in a time of violence and political upheaval. And while the Bea Whaley of the present behaves as a spoiled, selfish child, the Bea Whaley of the American Revolution is feisty, fast on her feet, and confident that the colonies will win their independence. Why wouldn't she wish to stay in the time that brings out the best version of herself with the people who see it?