Dreamland Social Club

( 5 )


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 ...

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Dreamland Social Club

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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.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
When Jane and her brother inherit the house in Coney Island where their late mother grew up, they move in with their father, planning to stay one year to prepare the house for sale. Sixteen-year-old Jane has lived everywhere from London to Tokyo, but amid Coney Island's rundown attractions and checkered history, she hopes to find clues about the mother she desperately misses. Palpable without being melodramatic, Jane's longing is well-wrought, as is the supporting cast of teenage dwarves, giants, and other Brooklyn natives, including a love interest for Jane. The mysteries Altebrando (What Happens Here) weaves into her story (what is the Dreamland Social Club? what iconic Coney sites do the keys Jane finds unlock? why is the carousel horse chained to a radiator in their living room so important?) will keep readers engaged, though not much really happens. Rather, this is a languid, introspective novel about a search for identity and meaning; against the backdrop of impending gentrification and development, both Jane and Coney Island itself are caught between the pull of the past and the uncertainty of the future. Ages 14–up. (May)
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—When Jane and her brother inherit their late mother's childhood home in Coney Island, the siblings and their dad leave London and move into it. There they experience a shockingly different culture filled with roller coasters, dwarves, bearded girls, and mermaids. Struggling to find her place in their new, unconventional high school, Jane stumbles upon a secret social club that her mother founded years earlier. As this discovery raises even more questions, she searches for answers from Leo, a strangely familiar tattooed boy. They explore the mysteries surrounding her family's carnie past with a set of hidden keys belonging to the amusement park. This book does a wonderful job of pairing eccentric details concerning Coney Island's past with a whimsical undertone. Any teen who has felt like an outsider in a new environment will devour this book.—Stephanie Malosh, Donoghue Elementary School, Chicago, IL
Kirkus Reviews

In this evocative homage to Coney Island, the "Playground of the World," a 16-year-old girl searches for clues about the mother she barely remembers.

Upon their grandfather's death, Jane and Marcus Dryden and their father move into their mother's childhood home on Coney Island. Jane soon discovers that her mother, Clementine Porcelli, the daughter of two carnies, founded the still-active Dreamland Social Club at Coney Island High School. She sets out to learn more about Clementine and the mysterious club. With the help of an old set of keys and a tattooed musician named Leo, she unlocks the various haunts of her mother's youth and finds the sense of adventure she lost when her mother died. Along the way, Jane realizes that "normal" is a matter of perspective and gains insight into the complicated and contentious history of the town's periods of growth and decline. Altebrando provides exceptional depth in both the setting and the motley cast of Coney Islanders, teen and adult, living and dead. Occasionally breaking the third-person narrative with Jane's memories of her mother, the author breathes life into the long-dead Clementine, while weaving in the attractions of Coney Island's fabled past.

The result is a memorable tale of personal growth and acceptance that will make teens eager to join a Dreamland Social Club of their own. (author's note) (Fiction. 14 & up)

School Library Journal
Gr 5–7—Tara Altebrando's story (Dutton, 2011) interweaves family sorrows, the history of Coney Island, carnival "freaks," and first love. Jane, her brother, and her father have moved many times since the death of her mother. The family moves to Brooklyn from London when the siblings inherit the home in Coney Island where their mother grew up. Jane hopes to get to know her mother better by learning about boardwalk life. The author incorporates a lot of fascinating Coney Island history as Jane meets a unique group of characters at her unconventional high school, among them a little person named Babette, Legs the Giant, and Leo, a familiar but mysterious tattooed boy. Along the way, she learns about her family's carnie past. Intriguing characters and a deft blend of carnival history both past and present draw listeners in. Erin Moon is a strong narrator, giving all the characters unique voices. Her excellent pacing helps convey Jane's confusion. The combination of personal loss and growth, eccentric characters, and the sad decline of both people and places will intrigue teens—B. Allison Gray, Santa Barbara Public Library System, CA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780525423256
  • Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
  • Publication date: 5/12/2011
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 805,124
  • Age range: 14 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.36 (w) x 5.76 (h) x 1.28 (d)

Meet the Author

Tara Altebrando is an author of books for teens and adults. She lives with her husband and young daughter in Astoria, Queens.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2012

    Excellent book

    Loved the characters. They felt like old friends. The story was amazing. Definitely one that you dont want it to end. Highly recommend to teens and adults alike.

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  • Posted August 12, 2011

    Nice, but Mediocre

    I was first tempted to read this book because the catchy front cover caught my eye. I then realized that the author was Tara Altebrando, a very successful writer of young adult fiction. However, "Dream Land Social Club" was mediocre at best and I was left unfulfilled.

    The difficult and choppy writing style makes it hard to develop a comfortable reading pace. The sentence structure and particular word choices felt like it was copied and pasted from other books.

    Of course, the characters which are the building blocks of any great story fell short. The author never fully explains each character and therefore are left wondering who they are. The book lacks in any emotional connection to the characters. In fact, they were rather unlikeable (maybe because of that reason). In the end of the book, there seemed to have been no personal development in any of the characters.

    The plot was rather dry and slow, with nothing exciting that hooks the reader and keeps them turning the page. Simple things were built up for entertainment and dramatic purposes to fuel the plot, but once such things were revealed, you were left feeling empty and bored.

    Overall, the plot was mediocre, the actual personalities of the characters were bland and unlikeable, or maybe not fully or correctly described and there was nothing interesting and important to take away from the book.

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  • Posted May 10, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A Beautiful Book

    Jane is used to moving around. Her father designs roller coasters and the family has moved many times to places where her father's work took them. This time it is to Coney Island, New York, the place where her mother grew up. Jane is both excited and nervous to learn more about her mother, who died when Jane was only six. But Jane ends up learning a lot more than that. With the help of new found friends, Jane will learn things about people she never dreamed she would meet, see things she never thought she would see, and will even fall in love.

    This book was AWESOME. I wanted to sit and soak up all of the Coney Island history, stories, and lore. I wanted to Google references as soon as I read about them. I loved all of the Coney Island history that is woven so tightly into the story. The atmosphere was rich with the salty sea air and sights and sounds Coney Island brings to it's visitors. Jane was a well-fleshed out character and a perfect choice to narrate the reader through the happenings of her experiences. The Tattooed Boy is totally romantic, and Jane's small friend Babette is honest and cute. There are a ton of "freaks" and "carnies" in this book, and Tara Altebrando is sensitive with her material while being unapologetic at the same time. I imagine many readers will want to visit the actual Coney Island after reading about the Dreamland Social Club. I have not read Tara's other two books, but I am interested in picking them up after reading this one, for sure!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 9, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 5, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews

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