Monday, April 17, 2017

Dreamland Burning

Dreamland Burning
By Jennifer Latham

As Rowan Chase's family starts a remodeling project on their property, workers find a human skeleton. Rowan is captivated by the discovery, and she and her best friend James set out to discover who the skeleton belongs to and how he came to be buried on her property. Because of this search, as well as her summer job/internship working at a clinic in the poor part of town, Rowan comes to think about race differently than ever before.

In 1921, William Tillman, who is half-white, half-Indian, gets caught up in the racial conflicts sweeping Tulsa. As he works in his father's Victorla shop, he comes to know a couple of Negroes, and when the racial tensions explode, he must decide whether to side with the whites who are determined to rid Tulsa of "bad" Negroes, do nothing except protect his own skin, or help those who are being attacked.

This book started off a little slow for my liking, but I'm so glad I stuck with it. Not only is this a well-written and captivating story, it's also an important one, as it introduces readers (most of whom, like me, likely aren't familiar with the rioting and killing of many African Americans in Tulsa in 1921) to a significant even in history. The way the story is presented made it fascinating, as readers wonder, along with Rowan, who was killed and why. William's story was even more interesting, as we see his growth. The culmination of the tensions in violence is so gripping--and even terrifying as the readers have to wait to find out who survives and who doesn't. This was really, really well-written and makes my best of 2017 list.

4.5 stars.