Blog Tour Review: Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Hello! Today I'm participating in the Dreamland Burning blog tour hosted by Hannah from The Irish Banana!

Something that I absolutely adore about historical fiction novels is how much I have learned since falling in love with the genre. I have read books about things that have happened in history that I probably never would have heard about had I not read a book about it!

The race riot in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1921 is one of those historical events that I likely never would have heard of. I am SO glad that I got the chance to read this book. It was incredibly eye opening and it gives me a historical event to talk about in an A Glimpse Back in Time post, which is always welcome!

If you are like me and have never heard of the race riot, it happened May 31st - June 1st, 1921. It all started when a young black man was arrested for allegedly trying to assault a white woman in an elevator. Armed groups of white men went to the courthouse to try to deal with the young man themselves and armed groups of black men went to offer their help protecting him.

Things went down and 35 blocks of Tulsa were burned to the ground! 800 people were treated for injuries and it's believed that about 300 people were killed. I think I read that only 20 of those people were white. Over 6.000 people, all black, were held at the convention hall for up to eight days.

I better not give you all of the information for my other post here!!

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: February 21st, 2017
Rating: 4 Stars
Source: Publisher
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 365

About Dreamland Burning:

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 question about the complex state of US race relations – both yesterday and today.

**I originally received an advanced copy of this book from the NOVL for review and then also received a hardcover from the publisher for participating in this blog tour.**


Dreamland Burning is part contemporary murder mystery, part historical fiction. It is told in the alternating points of view of two seventeen-year-olds. This book is about the racial tension in 1921 Tulsa as well as the race riot, and also about race issues still going on in today's society.

Rowan Chase is a privileged, biracial girl living in present day Tulsa, Oklahoma. Her mother is a black lawyer and her father is a white important oil guy. She has experienced subtle racism, but she has been mostly sheltered from experiencing more severe racism.

During a home renovation project on the part of her family's property that used to be the servant's quarters, the work crew discovers a skeleton beneath the floor. While investigators begin a cold case, Rowan begins her own investigation to figure out who the skeleton belonged to and how they ended up beneath that floor.

William Tillman is a biracial boy living in 1921 Tulsa. His father is a white victrola shop owner and his mother is a full blooded Osage Indian. The KKK is on the rise and racial tensions are high. In the beginning, Will finds himself getting into a bit of a fight with a black man named Clarence who was apparently getting too friendly with the girl from school that he was crushing on. The fight ends with Will's arm broken and the cops called on Clarence.

I think the situation with Clarence was eye opening for Will. This book is all about racism, which seemed to be on the rise in 1921. He sees this, sometimes experiences it from a character who frequently calls him, Half-Breed. Then he sees his father doing business after hours with black folks, albeit not entirely as fairly as he does it with white folks. He befriends a spirited little black girl, who visits him every Tuesday when he's mopping the back room of his father's shop.

I don't know, I don't think that the above paragraph was very eloquent, but basically what I'm trying to say is that in the beginning, Will seems to be just accepting of the racism, participating in it, generally maybe not caring about it. But over the course of the book, that changes. He grows and starts to see that something isn't right. I don't know, I hope this is all coming out coherently. I am kind of struggling with how to word this. I was really on a roll with this review for awhile but now it's 1 am. Forgive me. 

Basically, I really liked both Will and Rowan. They both have a lot of growth throughout the course of this book. I liked reading both of their stories and seeing how they intertwined. I think found William's point of view more interesting, if only because it felt like more happened in his part of the story.

The only hint of romance in this book is the crush that Will has on a girl at his school. Other than that, there is no romance brewing with either of the main characters. Rowan's best friend, James, is aromantic asexual. Just fyi for people who want to find more books with characters like that. He's not really a huge character in the book, but he's there.

I think that the main reason that I gave this book 4 stars is because of one thing in this book that really annoyed me. In the beginning, immediately after discovering the body under the floor of the back house, Rowan touched it!! She acts like she knows a thing or two about what goes on forensic-wise and what not. So WHY would she touch it!? And why wouldn't the cops be upset at all about that??? I don't know, maybe they actually wouldn't care, but I just don't believe that that's how it would go down and it bothered me.

Overall, I thought this was an excellent book! It covers an interesting, little known historical event that EVERYONE should probably know about. If you are into historical fiction or are curious about the race riot, you may enjoy this book! I would definitely recommend this book!

Buy Links:

About Jennifer Latham:

I'm a grown-up army brat with two kids, two dogs, and a husband. After working in a morgue, a maximum-security prison, a heroin detox, and assorted middle and high schools, I decided to try may hand at writing. Happily, it stuck.

I love watching people.

And I love writing about the characters who live inside my head—even when they don’t play nice.

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