Review: Dreamland Social Club by Tara Altebrando {#JustContemporary}

Today for Just Contemporary [Find out more about this event HERE} I have a review of Dreamland Social Club.  I also have an interview with the author that will go up later today.

Dreamland Social Club by Tara Altebrando

Hardcover, 389 pgs.
Published May 12, 2011 by Dutton Juvenile
Reading Level: Young Adult
Source: Library

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.

Wow, this book really was amazing!   First of all, the setting!  I have never been to Coney Island but it’s always been a dream of mine to visit NYC and, of course, Coney Island while I’m over there.  But I never really knew much about Coney Island and having it as the setting was amazing.  Seriously, it made the book so much better.  Of course it was integral to the story, so it wouldn’t have been the story it was without it being at Coney Island.  
I really liked Jane and I thought her progression in the book was perfect. She starts out as a ‘Looky Lou’ (you know, the people who stare at people who are different) and ends up being Looky Lou’d at (okay, so you might have to read the book to understand that…).   When Jane, her brother and her father first arrived she didn’t know anything about her grandparents (who are now dead) and after seeing the house and all the Coney Island relics, she really started having an urge to find out more.  To get to know her grandparents better since she never got to meet them.  And in this quest she starts remembering her mom a bit better.  Her mom died when she was young and she thinks she’s mostly forgotten her.  But things start jarring her memory.  She hears a song and suddenly she remembers a game she played with her mom, etc.  She starts figuring things out, like that her mom liked secrets and she left clues for different things around.  And Jane, with her crush, Leo, starts going around using these old keys to visit Coney Island landmarks.  She also discovers her mother was the founder of Dreamland Social Club and she’s determined to find out more about this secret club.  All this time there’s a huge thing going on because Coney Island is going to be redeveloped but the owners of the land don’t care about all the old businesses, the things that just are a major part of Coney Island.  They want to rebuild something brand new and rip all the old stuff down.  All the Coney Islanders don’t care for this.  And Jane, well she’s stuck in a very awkward position because of the part her father plays in the whole scene of things.
Jane was a great character, but so many others have important roles as well.  There’s Leo, the tattoo’d hottie who Jane feels drawn to immediately. (But no insta-romance! These two develop a strong friendship first.)  Babette, the goth dwarf who she ends up being good friends with;  H.T. the legless boy; Rita the rubber girl and well, so many others.  And I loved that.  That we got to see a group of friends that are all different.  It really fit the whole story perfectly.
I really really loved this book and I highly urge you to pick it up.  If you enjoy Young Adult Contemporary and Coney Island sounds like an intriguing setting, then this book should be for you!
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  1. Thanks so much for this review, Candace. I hadn’t heard of this book before, but I’m loving that cover and anything with a tattoo’d hottie immediately goes on my TBR! LOL

  2. I’m making it official: I MUST READ THIS BOOK! I have no clue how I’ve missed it this entire time – I’ve seen the cover, but never read the synopsis – but I’m going to rectify that soon. Here’s another one going on my wishlist!

  3. I haven’t heard much about this one, and I had previously thought it looked a little interesting, but I’m totally interested now!! Yet another book to add to the massive list that I HAVE to read. :)

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