The Anatomy of Dreams

A Novel

The Anatomy of Dreams

Discover the award-winning debut novel by the New York Times bestselling author of The Immortalists, a “majestic collision of sci-fi thriller and love story” (Bustle) about a young woman struggling with questions of love, trust, and ethics as the line between dreams and reality dangerously blurs.

When Sylvie Patterson, a bookish student at a Northern California boarding school, falls in love with a spirited, elusive classmate named Gabe, they embark on an experiment that changes their lives. Their headmaster, Dr. Adrian Keller, is a charismatic medical researcher who has staked his career on the therapeutic potential of lucid dreaming: by teaching his patients to become conscious during sleep, he believes he can relieve stress and trauma. Over the next six years, Sylvie and Gabe become consumed by Keller’s work, following him across the country.

But when an opportunity brings the trio to the Midwest, Sylvie and Gabe stumble into a tangled relationship with their mysterious neighbors—and Sylvie begins to doubt the ethics of Keller’s research. As she navigates the hazy, permeable boundaries between what is real and what isn’t, who can be trusted and who cannot, Sylvie also faces surprising developments in herself—an unexpected infatuation, growing paranoia, and a new sense of rebellion.

With stirring, elegant prose, “Chloe Benjamin has crafted an eerie, compelling first novel which, like the lingering effects of a vivid dream, resonates long past its finish” (Karen Brown, The Longings of Wayward Girls).
  • Atria Books | 
  • 320 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781476761176 | 
  • September 2014
List Price $11.99 (price may vary by retailer)


Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for The Anatomy of Dreams includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


Young couple Gabe and Sylvie are lured into a controversial sleep study by their charismatic boarding school headmaster, injecting mistrust into the trio and revealing the immense, uncontrollable power of our dreams.  

Topics & Questions for Discussion 

1. Think about Sylvie’s relationship with Gabe from their first days at Mills to Wisconsin. How does their relationship evolve over the course of the novel?
2. How did you first react to Dr. Keller and his influence over his students? Why are Gabe and Sylvie attracted to joining Keller in his controversial, secretive line of work?
3. How does painting help Sylvie process her feelings?
4. Why do you think Sylvie decides to go with Gabe when he suddenly reappears in her life? Do you think she ever trusted him after he disappeared from Mills?
5. How does Gabe change in the years between high school and the years in Wisconsin?
6. Why do you think the author used nonlinear storytelling to see more

About the Author

Chloe Benjamin
Photograph by Nathan Jandl

Chloe Benjamin

Chloe Benjamin is the author of the New York Times bestseller The Immortalists and The Anatomy of Dreams, which won the Edna Ferber Fiction Book Award. She is a graduate of Vassar College and The University of Wisconsin-Madison MFA program. Learn more at