The Line Between Dreams and Reality: A Deep Dive into In The Back Of My Head

Photo of author

By Jacob Maslow

A Review of In the Back of My Head by I.Y. Maslow, available now.

In The Back Of My Head burst onto the modern literature scene in late 2021 and has already amassed 270 ratings on Amazon, most of which are 5 stars. The book has also received rave reviews on Goodreads.

As a parent, you always want your child to do well, so seeing so many people enjoying this book by my son is thrilling. However, I’m also delighted to say I truly enjoyed it. In this review, I look at the book’s themes and what makes it so gripping for so many readers.

A Brief Synopsis of In The Back Of My Head


Through the eyes of characters with titles like, “The Existentialist,” and, “The Cynic,” In The Back Of My Head tells a tale of nightmares, voices in a teenager’s head, and dark secrets. One character, “The Defeatist,” is a mystery voice adding morbid threats throughout the tale.

In the first part, we learn that a psychological disturbance may be partially founded in reality. Dreams that a young man, Cole, has been having many memories. In the second part, the protagonists investigate events linked to these dreams, uncovering some unsavory characters. A horror from the past comes back to haunt survivors. Explaining that the third and fourth parts would give spoilers is an understatement.

Along the way, the book prompts some serious questions, from how far you would go to protect a family member to the ethics of euthanasia. Maslow also does a great job of turning stereotypes on their heads. There’s domestic abuse, but it’s not always a woman who’s the victim. Similarly, it’s the female protagonist who’s more determined and in control—unusual and welcome, especially in a debut novel. There’s a keen and justice-focused mind at work behind this thriller.

Twists and Turns

From the “You get what you wish for,” style intro to the gradual development of the Defeatist’s thoughts, the tapestry of this book trips anyone up determined to anticipate the ending. There are other twists throughout, including in the character development. For example, it’s natural to assume the trust between father and son is a two-way street of honesty, but realizing that an otherwise loving father has lied is shocking.

Without giving away the ending for prospective readers, the deeper you get into the story, the more possibilities open up. At one point, you could be forgiven for thinking that any of several people could be the antagonist. The truth is so much more shocking.

Psychological Drama

I suppose it’s clear that any author who starts a book’s first main section with an Edgar Allan Poe quote will appreciate psychological horror aspects. Aspects of this weave through even early chapters: the similarities between the urge to protect in a dream and the need to draw a friend out of a dangerous situation at a party, for example. This would be a quick flash between the dream scene and reality in a film, but Maslow manages this feat in writing, linking the two events effortlessly.

Another psychological impact is the way the story drags you along. There is a constant compulsion to want, no, need to know what happens next. Character development is fast — within moments, you can’t help but despise (or maybe hate) Mr Haynes, the tired, abusive schoolteacher. Likewise, while Cole is a mystery and, at times, unsympathetic, you root for him almost immediately.

There’s also the exploration of misdiagnosed schizophrenia. Cole is taking medication for the things he dreams and imagines, but much of it is shown to have really happened. In a real-life diagnosis situation, with all the facts, a respectable psychologist would most likely report post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD). Interestingly, this shows some careful research from the author. Around a third of people diagnosed with schizophrenia may have been given that diagnosis incorrectly, according to recent studies.

What Other Readers Are Saying About In The Back Of My Head

This thoughtful and gripping psychological thriller has also attracted plenty of other readers. On Goodreads, one reviewer said:

“Everyone needs to read this amazing book. My wife and I just finished it and seriously loved every second of it and could not stop.”

Another review attests to the impossibility of guessing the truth ahead of the end:

“This book had me guessing until the end – and I was wrong numerous times.”

Many readers comment on how they just had to know what was happening — the sign of a great mystery novel.

“I really liked the writing and how the chapters were named. The twist was good, and I loved but hated how it ended (the last line). Like I wish there was more. I need to know more!!!

I’m proud of I.Y. Maslow for writing this book — an achievement. However, I’m even more thrilled that it’s as gripping and satisfying as it’s turned out to be. Discovering that hundreds of other readers feel the same way has been the icing on the cake.

About the Author

I.Y. Maslow is an up-and-coming young author who published this astonishing debut at just 18 years of age. While some may comment on the lack of experience of youth, it seems like his age gives him a closeness to some subjects that brings them to life with extra vividness. In the book’s early stages, for example, Cole is walking into school. The descriptions of the conflicting emotions, the negativity, and even the smell of the school environment transport you back to that time of teen awkwardness.

Within Cole, there’s a real sense of a young man on the cusp of adulthood, still dealing with embarrassment and the quiet humiliation of opening up to others. However, the character is also willing to accept that some people have good intentions, and you see him try to break lingering childhood habits of isolation and nervousness.

If I.Y. Maslow continues to hold onto this ability to capture the reader’s imagination and evoke specific emotions and scenarios in this way, he has the potential to develop into one of the great writers of our time.

You can ask I.Y Maslow questions about his books and writing methods at Goodreads.

Images Courtesy of DepositPhotos