Dancing on Seaside takes place in Atlantic City during the summer of 1977, before legalized gambling changed the nature of the city's culture. It captures a bygone era during which the city was known more for its poverty than for opulent casinos or winning games.
Readers familiar with Atlantic City's present-day milieu or past history will find delightful this nostalgic, realistic story which brings to life the region's culture from the eyes of son Jamie and his mother. Both experience a magical last summer, many new opportunities and transitions in their lives and relationship, and the changing sands of time.
To Jamie, it's a summer on the cusp of positive change. It's the summer before high school, when he's required to mature in many ways. For his mother, it's a journey into caretaking and seeing her priorities change from son to mother as she accepts a new and challenging role. And then there's a family history to struggle with, which both impacts their lives and threatens future generations.
Atlantic City is not the only thing waking up in this story. So are characters whose lives hang in balance and slowly tip into unfamiliar territory.
The sights, sounds, and smells of the piers, boardwalk, tides, and view of Atlantic City come to life under the astute observational pen of Julius James DeAngelus. There's a bitter wind blowing that challenges innocence, exposing closely-held secrets and changing lives. Mother and son find themselves nearly swept away by its force. Each must loosen their defenses, develop new awareness of one another and themselves, and hone new objectives.
Dancing on Seaside opens gently as these waves of change lap at a reader's senses, easing into these dilemmas only after taking time to craft an appropriate and especially well-detailed sense of time, place, and perspective. Against this backdrop, guilt, fear, and frightening revelations take their place and reflect some of the social changes affecting the broader picture of Atlantic City and the 1970s era as a whole.
Readers looking for an atmospheric, engrossing story of evolution in a season that changes everything will find Dancing on Seaside a gently compelling read, perfect for a beach tote and a summer's contemplation.