Review: Dreamland Burning

Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

From Amazon:
Some bodies won’t stay buried.
Some stories need to be told.

When seventeen-year-old Rowan Chase finds a skeleton on her family’s property, she has no idea that investigating the brutal century-old murder will lead to a summer of painful discoveries about the past… and the present.

Nearly one hundred years earlier, a misguided violent encounter propels seventeen-year-old Will Tillman into a racial firestorm. In a country rife with violence against blacks and a hometown segregated by Jim Crow, Will must make hard choices on a painful journey towards self discovery and face his inner demons in order to do what’s right the night Tulsa burns.

Through intricately interwoven alternating perspectives, Jennifer Latham’s lightning-paced page-turner brings the Tulsa race riot of 1921 to blazing life and raises important questions about the complex state of US race relations – both yesterday and today.

My Review:
When construction workers uncover a skeleton in the back house behind Rowan’s home, she and her best friend James begin their own investigation. The only clue they have to the skeleton’s identity is an old hand-written receipt and a gun. Culminating in an ugly and all but forgotten event, the story unfolds alternately between Rowan as she grapples with her own prejudices and sense of identity, and a boy named Will who lived almost a hundred years ago.

I wasn’t completely in love with the narrative style at the beginning of the book, but it definitely got better and better as the characters evolved. And they did evolve. My five star rating is mainly for the interwoven time-lines and plots and the great way the author handled difficult subjects. While not specifically a young adult novel, it’s a very easy read and would certainly be appropriate for mature young adult readers. There seems to be so few YA books out there that would appeal to boys as well as girls, but the alternating narrative here makes it a great read for just about anybody.

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