Friday, April 5, 2013
Book review: Dreamland Social Club
Dreamland Social Club by Tara Altebrando
Description from Goodreads (below) can be found here along with other reviews. Linking up with Blonde... Undercover Blonde for Book Club Friday.
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.
I really liked this book.
Jane moves into the house her mother grew up in on Coney Island as a junior in high school. Her mother died when she was very young, and Jane begins to uncover a lot about her mother and the grandparents she never knew by living in the place -- the house, and the community -- where they all lived.
There are a few driving themes in Dreamland Social Club. One, obviously, is Jane's discovery of her mother and her maternal grandparents and what their lives mean to her. The process is slow and steady, emotional, and overall, realistic.
Another huge theme, though, is conformity versus nonconformity. I have to assume the name Jane was picked for a reason -- to evoke the thought of Plain Jane -- because that's how she feels going into her high school. Jane's classmates fully embrace the sideshow culture of old Coney Island. They are known for their quirks -- a seven foot tall "giant," a little person, a bearded lady, and more. It was a really interesting backdrop for the typical struggles of cliques and high school.
One thing I did struggle with, though, was that the characters never lost their original monikers -- the giant stayed "the giant" throughout the book, even when Jane got to know him and considered him a friend.
Otherwise, I really liked this book. I thought the relationships between characters were realistic and fun, and the romance was adorable and butterfly-inducing. I gave it four stars!
Have any of you read Dreamland Social Club? What did you think?