Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Dreamland Social Club byTara Altebrando

Publisher:  Dutton Juvenile (Penguin)
Publish Date:  May 12, 2011
ISBN:  978-052543256  
Pages:  304

Blurb:  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.

Keep an eye out for the interview with Tara Altebrando tomorrow!!

I didn't hear much about this book before it came out, but I ran across it on Amazon and the cover drew me in and the blurb convinced me.  I love the colors on the cover and the mermaid (Jane) seems to be looking in but not quite a part of things.  Coney Island is a fascinating place, I wish I could have seen it in its heyday.  Carnis are always an interesting subject too, have you seen some of the old carnie shows?  Entrancing and horrifying at the same time.  It's no wonder I bought this book!

So Jane's family inherits a house in Coney Island.  It's her mother's parent's house and is chock full of carnie stuff and Coney Island stuff.  Jane's dad is looking to sell a roller coaster idea to the city OR the evil corporation that wants to take over Coney Island.  Her brother is just doing time till he can go to college and Jane is trying to figure out how to fit in.  All this goes on while no one talks about her mother.  The way you become connected to Jane's mother is through Jane's flashbacks of childhood.  The flashbacks are wonderful - I haven't read a book that uses them so perfectly - I felt like I really got to know her mom.

Jane and her brother have to attend high school at Coney Island.  The school has it's fair share of freaks and geeks, but a little different than some schools.  There's a goth dwarf, a giant guy that doesn't play basketball, a tiny doll-like girl, tattooed girl and boy, a boy with no legs that gets around on a skateboard or prosthetic legs and her tormentors - the grandchildren of her grandpa's rival.  Turns out her grandpa stole a carousel horse that their grandpa made and they want it back.  Jane stands out against this backdrop because she's 'plain Jane', she dresses all in gray and stays quiet.  I really felt that the author's choice on Jane made her stand out so much more than anyone else.  The school is pretty cool, they even have a class on the "History of Coney Island".  There is a love story, but not the usual for YA, it's more of the thrill you get when your hand brushes the hand of that boy you're head over heels for.  You know, first major crush and all that.

The story isn't just about Jane coming to terms with her mothers death or even about fitting in or figuring out who she is.  It's about friendship and community and making the fantastic leap into the unknown.  Jane's mother would have been proud.

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