Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham

I received this book for free from From the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Dreamland Burning by Jennifer LathamDreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham
Published on: February 21, 2017
Genres: Fiction, Young Adult, Mysteries & Detective Stories
Pages: 384
Format: ARC
Source: From the Publisher
Buy on Amazon | Buy on Chapters Indigo

About the Book

A compelling dual-narrated tale from Jennifer Latham that asks the question - how far have we really come with race relations in the last 100 years?

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.


While I’ve had Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham in my tbr pile of books for some time now, I didn’t think that it would be the book to cure my reading slump.  But that is exactly what it did.  This dually-narrated tale of murder, mystery and social unrest drew me in from the first page right to the very end.

As excited as I was to read Dreamland Burning, I was also hesitant.  Would this book just be a caricature of the reality of living as a black person in either the modern age, or in times gone by?  Would it adequately address what is referred to as the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921, but was really the systematic destruction of what was considered the black equivalent of Wall Street?  I’m pretty glad to say that any fears and concerns I had were resolved within the first few pages of the book.  It’s good, insightful, thought-provoking and absolutely necessary.

Both Will and Rowan are very relatable characters dealing with some pretty significant issues.  While Will’s story is really the one that proves to move both stories along, and the more interesting of the two, Rowan’s story is no less important.  Will’s story tell us just how the body Rowan found came to be buried on her property, while Rowan plays a big role in finding out just who that body belongs to.  It’s interesting to see the worldview of both characters change as the dual stories unfold.

Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham is a great story.  It’s fast paced, addictive, thought provoking, insightful, and 100% necessary.


“I understand now that history doesn’t necessarily mean better.  I understand now that history only moves forward in a straight line when we learn from it.  Otherwise it loops past the same mistakes over and over again.” ~Rowan

“The dead always have stories to tell.  They just need the living to listen.” ~Rowan

“Glancing sideways at a white woman was near enough to get Negroes lynched in Tulsa.  Shot, even, in the middle of Main Street at noon, and with no more consequence than a wink and a nudge and a slap on the back.” ~Will

“The  crime’s different but the problem’s the same.  It’s about power and prejudice and shit rooted so deep people don’t see it anymore.” ~James

“You have to pretend the back is as good as the front.  We know it isn’t and so do they.  There’s no need to belabor the point.” ~Mr. Tillman

“…when people hear the word riot–white people, I mean — they picture black people running crazy in the streets, looting stores and homes and burning things.  That wasn’t what happened in Greenwood…it was white folks ho rioted that night.  They looted Greenwood, then burned it to the ground.”~Mrs. Chase

“The lives that ended that night mattered.  It was a mistake for this city to try to forget, and it’s an even bigger one to pretend everything’s fine now.  Black men and women are dying today for the same reasons they did in 1921.  And we have to call that out, Rowan.  Every single time.” ~Mrs. Chase

“Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Harris, Laquan McDonald — they’re jus the ones who made the news.”  ~James

Also by Jennifer Latham

Scarlet Undercover by Jennifer Latham

Scarlet Undercover by Jennifer Latham