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Dreamland Burning

Review

Dreamland Burning

When a skeleton turns up on 17-year-old Rowan Chase’s family’s property, she has no idea the secrets that it will reveal. Century old issues are brought to light as they reflect what is currently happening, and Rowan begins to believe that some things never change. Her once planned out summer has turned into an investigation that she never expected.

A century ago, a misguided argument in a bar leads to the murder of a black man, and it is on Will Tillman’s shoulders. He is now thrown into the middle of a racial firestorm, and in a city and country rampant with social and racial injustice, Will must decide whose side he is on --- or if he could be on both.

Told in alternating perspectives, Jennifer Latham brings the Tulsa race riot of 1921 to life and calls up important questions about race relations in the U.S. --- both a century ago and today.

"This book is perfect for anyone interested in social and racial justice and the amazing and courageous stories that come out of the injustices. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, and I cannot wait to see what Lantham will write next."

DREAMLAND BURNING completely surprised me. I have never read a book so striking about racial and social injustice. Lantham did this in a way that was completely apparent without being preachy or ungrounded. Each fear and uncertainty that the characters felt echoed through the pages and rang true. This novel has definitely made me see people and their struggles and insecurities in a different way, and I am so grateful for that.

This novel also had such an amazing and diverse set of characters. We had an asexual man, a half-black woman, a half-Native American man, a recovered meth addict and so many more. All of these characters felt so real to me, like I could walk out and meet them for coffee right now. My favorite character was Rowan because she had a thirst for knowledge and the truth that I found admirable and charming.

The plot of DREAMLAND BURNING also flew by. I have not read Lantham’s other novel, SCARLETT UNDERCOVER, but if it was anything like this novel, I need to pick it up. When I read DREAMLAND BURNING, the plot was so quick and intricately paced that I would read forty or fifty pages and not even realize it. In a time when I can barely find the time to sit down and read, I actually could not put this book down.

Finally, I loved the premise of DREAMLAND BURNING. Half of it was founded in an actual historical event, the Tulsa race riot of 1921, which I may have never known about having never read this book. Lantham managed to make the social problems of 1921 echo the current problems in Rowan’s time, and it led to a unique and beautiful reading experience.

This book is perfect for anyone interested in social and racial justice and the amazing and courageous stories that come out of the injustices. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, and I cannot wait to see what Lantham will write next.

Reviewed by Bryn D., Teen Board Member on February 27, 2017

Dreamland Burning
by Jennifer Latham