Sunday, March 26, 2017

Review: Dreamland Burning

Dreamland Burning Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Setting: Tulsa, Oklahoma

Why I read: I've danced on the Cain's Dance Hall floor in Tulsa (so do the characters in the novel) and Debbie Reese's review about this book (see it on Goodreads).

My take: Both main characters are mixed race and wealthy, and realizing that money doesn't mean much when racist people surround you. Will tries to survive during the 1921 race riots in Tulsa, when the whites in town rioted and burned a wealthy African-American neighborhood and killed way too many people because of their color. His mom is a Native American, so Will isn't exactly pure according to the KKK, which tries to recruit him. In modern day Tulsa, Rowan is a 17-year-old girl with a white dad and a lawyer African-American mother. She never even thinks much about race because she's surrounded by wealthy white people, until she starts volunteering at a medical clinic on the bad side of town. Nice to see that her best friend is asexual--it's not a huge theme in the book, just a fact.

Their stories intermingle when Rowan finds the skeleton of an African American buried in her backyard. Lots of mystery here--who is the person? And the suspense doesn't disappoint. Loved how Rowan has to visit the elderly to find out the local history--it would be great if a high school class could read this as a class novel before visiting local nursing homes for an interview project.

Lots of racial issues here--Jim Crow, Native American, African American, mixed races, and hiding history. I'm sure this one will end up on many best lists. Thanks to reading Debbie Reese's review, I read this looking through her lens. I'm hoping that someone will take up the call to write a YA novel just about the Reign of Terror in the Osage Nation--please!

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