By: Jennifer Latham
This is a book that has been on my to read list, as it is a Gateway Nominee for the 2019-2020 school year, but just haven’t gotten to it. I shouldn't have waited.
Dreamland Burning goes between two characters, and also two different time periods. William, a biracial (white and Native American) teen in the 1920’s, and Rowan, a biracial (African American and white) teen girl in the current time. (I purposefully put their prominent race first for emphasis). The books’ overall focus is the Tulsa Race Riots (also known as the race massacre).
Rowan is living in an old house, and workers find a body while digging. There is no identification to the body - just a wallet with a piece of paper and coins, none past 1921. She goes through the book attempting to solve the mystery.
William lives in the Jim Crow era, and when he sees a black man touch a white girl in a speakeasy, a girl he’s in love with, the racist tendencies of the time show through. After Will is pushed and wrist broken, the black man runs, but is found and ultimately killed. This hits Will hard, as he never intended to have him killed. This starts a string of events in Will’s life that changes his life and perspective.
To be honest, I struggled at first getting into the book. The multiple viewpoint was challenging enough, but then reading about two different eras made it difficult to connect at first. But, as I read more, things started to meld, more questions and clues came about, which of course made me change my mind about the identity of the body, and the end was just wow in a good way. Definitely one to stick through to the end.