When Janie Hannagan is eight years old, she has a strange thing happen to her: her and her mother are on a train, on their way to visit her grandmother, when Janie is sucked into the dream of a man sitting in the seat behind her mother. Janie doesn’t realize what she witnessed at first, but as the years go by, she realizes that anytime anyone is sleeping near her, she is at risk of losing consciousness and becoming a witness to their dreams. This “curse” of hers is constantly disrupting her life- at school, she’s surrounded by sleepy teenagers, and at risk of getting dragged into a dream state and falling out of her chair.
Witnessing her friends’ dreams allows her to learn their deepest secrets and fears, against her will. She learns who has a secret crush on who, who has a very unhappy home life and even how her best friend lost a brother in a tragic accident that she’s never mentioned.
Enter Cabel Strumheller, a fellow classmate with a bad boy reputation, who starts noticing Janie. In the beginning of their high school career, he was known as a drug user and a flunkie. However at the start of senior year, he’s hardly recognizable- gone is the long greasy hair and the cigarette smoking; Janie and Cabel start hanging out and there’s a definite connection between them.
However, there are still rumors….Janie’s best friend Carrie informs her that Cabel is hanging out with Shay, a “druggie” at their school, and he’s been partying with her on the weekends. There was even a drug bust, and Cabel was arrested along with everyone at the party. Janie is crushed, and swears off Cabel. However, he tells her that it’s not like it seems, and promises to one day explain everything to her.
A few times Janie falls into Cabel’s dreams and while they are not good dreams that clear him of wrongdoing, they are confusing and Janie is filled with doubt. What is Cabel involved in? And why does Janie get the feeling that there is something very sinister going on at her high school?