Friday, September 23, 2011

Book in Review: Dreamland Social Club by Tara Altebrando



Dutton Juvenile


Jane has traveled the world with her father and brother, but it's not until her fractured family-still silently suffering from the loss of Jane's mother many years before-inherits a house and a history in Coney Island that she finally begins to find a home. With the help of a new community of friends, a mermaid's secrets, and a tattooed love interest with traffic-stopping good looks, the once plain Jane begins to blossom and gains the courage to explore the secrets of her mother's past.

Colorful characters, beautiful writing, and a vibrant, embattled beachfront backdrop make this the perfect summer read for anyone who has ever tried to find true love or a place to call home.

Why I Read This:

Reading 2011 books in 2011.

Other bloggers put me on to it. It sounded like it would be a fun, unique story to really dive into.


This book was fabulous! Beyond knowing that there was a community in Coney Island built upon the amusement park, I've never been aware of any of the social culture and history there. Seeing this through Jane's eyes was like getting my own private history lesson that was not only fascinating by every new thing learned, but also extremely personal. I know this is fiction, but really, Tara Altebrando is an amazing writer for showing that history is in fact a very personal thing. That history not only happened, but happened to our ancestors (who were real people just like us), and that what happens in the past effects us here in the present.

The cast is very eclectic. You have Jane, the average girl (new to Coney Island), Babette, a "little person" who dresses Goth, Jane's crush Leo who happens to be covered all over with tattoos. A girl with a beard, a guy without legs. All of these people become Jane's friends and her entry into learning more and more about Coney Island. Jane discovers secrets about her now deceased mother and learns what it means to support both family and friendship when the two are seemingly at odds against one another.

There is so much happening here and it can seem confusing at first wondering which storyline is going to take over next. But I was amazed that in the end, all of them mattered. That life can take hold in multiple directions, each of them equally important is something that you don't see every day in fiction. Stories tend to be simplified and characters simplified, all so the reader can follow easily and be entertained. Dreamland Social Club was so much more than that. The complexity of people and every day life and history really shined through.  Every story told was a story followed through on. By the end of the book there were even loose threads being tied up that I had thought minor and just forgotten about.

This one is definitely worth checking out! I loved everything about it (with the exception of a little slowness at the beginning) and recommend it to all you history/contemporary readers out there.

My Rating:

4.5/5 (but calendars don't come in half days)

I bought my copy.

Related Posts:

The Friday 56 (Teaser)
Attempted Beach Reading
Under-Cover Sundays (7): Half Brother, Dreamland Social Club and Grace
Character Interview with Babette from Dreamland Social Club

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