STARRED REVIEW
March 2017

Sins of the past

By Jennifer Latham
Review by

In 1921, a rash argument over a pretty girl propels 17-year-old Will Tillman into a hotbed of racial tension in Tulsa, Oklahoma. As he begins to understand what Jim Crow really means, he faces difficult decisions between what is expected and what is right. Nearly 100 years later, 17-year-old Rowan Chase discovers a skeleton under the floorboards of her family’s backhouse. As she investigates the murder, she learns firsthand that history isn’t entirely in the past.

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In 1921, a rash argument over a pretty girl propels 17-year-old Will Tillman into a hotbed of racial tension in Tulsa, Oklahoma. As he begins to understand what Jim Crow really means, he faces difficult decisions between what is expected and what is right. Nearly 100 years later, 17-year-old Rowan Chase discovers a skeleton under the floorboards of her family’s backhouse. As she investigates the murder, she learns firsthand that history isn’t entirely in the past.

The author of Scarlett Undercover, Jennifer Latham doesn’t shy away from the hard truth in her new historical novel, Dreamland Burning. The two protagonists take parallel journeys as they unwittingly step outside their lives of relative privilege and open their eyes to the grim realities of their respective societies. And what makes these characters so special is that they’re nothing special. Rowan and Will and their friends, even more richly developed in Will’s chapters than Rowan’s, are honest renderings of young people experiencing and navigating injustice for the first time.

Dreamland Burning is a critical look at race relations today, bringing to light the abuses we often pretend disappeared with Jim Crow, but that we must face head-on if we want to continue moving forward as a society. Latham’s prose will captivate readers from start to finish as she moves seamlessly back and forth between Will’s difficult coming of age and Rowan’s discovery of what history left behind.

 

This article was originally published in the March 2017 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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Dreamland Burning

Dreamland Burning

By Jennifer Latham
Little, Brown
ISBN 9780316384933

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