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1.0 out of 5 starsAgree to disagree, too many inaccuracies
Reviewed in the United States on July 25, 2019
I'm read this in order to help my grandson understand it and I am going to have to agree to disagree. This writer starts out by crediting the development of highway 66 with Tulsa going from a 'cow town' to a city. Tulsa has never been a cow town but rather was always developed because of the discovery of oil. Quite a few of the mansions we have here were built in the early 1900's with Maple ridge development beginning around 1912. Highway 66 didn't exist until 1926, 5 years after the riot. Spoilers from here, if you don't want to know stop now. Tulsa Central was founded in 1906 and was segregated to white students only, how was Will allowed to go there? He was 1/2 Osage. Couldn't find an answer for that one. When the workers discovered the bones in the servants quarters they ran bc they were most likely undocumented? A Tulsa defense attorney is not going to hire undocumented workers. Rowan goes to look and not only moves the tarp but lifts out the 1/2 buried gun (fingerprints) then spits on it trying to read what is carved on it (DNA) then promptly removes part of the scalp to discover a fractured skull. That's called desecration of a body (felony) and or interference with a crime scene. At this point Rowan is TSTL for me. This writer has insulted the Tulsa police department with her narrative regarding treatment of the mother of Rowan who is Black and the treatment of both husband and wife during their interview about the body/bones. Treating her mother with suspicion when she answered her own door and when the white husband walks in they direct all of their questions to him. Like a person of color can't live in Maple Ridge? Ridiculous. At one point Rowan makes the statement "Why would they bother hiding it?" and James responds to her with "Jesus what's wrong with people?" Her statement is past tense, his is present intimating that people feel the same today that they did in 1921. Not true. I don't understand what the writer was trying to get across with both Rowan and James calling the anthropologist racist bc she determined the skeleton to be of African American origin based on the skull, science is science and doesn't have anything to do with race. That being said, that indicates to me that both Rowan and James have their own issues regarding judgmentalism. Look at what James says about the people in the retirement home located next to the cemetery, "oh they probably put a tag on their toe as soon as they get here" or something of that nature. Isn't that showing ageism? At one point Rowan slams on her brakes causing an accident, the man who slams into her gets out shouting at her making racial comments then slams Alvin in the chest knocking him into traffic where he is killed. That's called assault and battery, as well as Hate crime because of the racial slur, and that would come with a least the charge of manslaughter. The DA would have spoken to Rowan BEFORE the decision was made whether or not to press charges. He would have also spoken with the driver of the suburban that hit him. I mean seriously, have you MET our DA? There are also several scenes that are so implausible its to the point of ridiculous. Have you ever seen the result of someone who drowns and is revived? They are not going to be cutting hair, especially with hand clippers. The removal of the asbestos from the servants quarters was implausible, not just anyone can do that. There are EPA standards that have to be followed. Her comment about not having sidewalks keeps out the "unwashed masses" is just beyond the S word. There are very few neighborhoods in Tulsa proper that have sidewalks and those that do were put in years later. My house was built in 1928 and there are no sidewalks in our neighborhood. The shooting of Eric Harris in 2015 should have come with the notation that the reserve deputy that killed him was convicted of manslaughter. There is even a reference that Tulsa would be the next Ferguson indicting that race relations here are a relative powder keg. They are not. The Tulsa Race Riot was a terrible time in our history. Those involved should have been ashamed of themselves. We were living with the Jim Crow laws at the time and it was acceptable behavior to treat Blacks as if they were inferior. That was not ok then and its not ok now, but, enough credit isn't given to people like Will who risked their own lives to help save others. I personally knew several people that risked their lives to hide their 'servants'. Ignorance can only beget ignorance and sweeping this under the rug was wrong but its also important to note that it was over 100 years ago and this writer has taken great creative license to intimate that we in Tulsa are a bunch of backwoods, bigoted, privileged white people. We are not and frankly this book has made me angry that this perception may actually exist. My parents moved to Tulsa in the mid 50's and I am a Tulsa native of almost 60 years. This Tulsa has never existed for me. I am not prejudiced nor was I raised to be.
5.0 out of 5 starsGripping novel about a dark secret in American history!
Reviewed in the United States on February 24, 2017
I am a high school librarian in Tulsa, OK, and it is shocking how most of my students know very little about this tragic event which took place right here in our own backyard. Because of this, I am so grateful that the author targeted young adults by featuring teen protagonists who narrate the story. The alternating perspectives of both characters, one from the time of the race riot in 1921, and the other from present day Tulsa, weave together seemlessly. Their paths cross when skeletal remains are found by workmen who are remodeling the back house of an affluent historical home in today's Tulsa. A murder mystery ensues, and we are taken back to people, places, and events that led up to one of the worst incidents of racial violence in U.S. history, although many people remain uninformed about this for various reasons. The characters are well-developed, the plot is riveting, and people of all ages will come away with a better understanding of the Tulsa Race Riot, and it's relation to current racial tension prevalent in today's world. Jennifer Latham poured her heart and soul into this book having done extensive research using archived primary source documents and interviews. It is a powerful story you will never forget. This book is highly recommended!
While renovating the old servant's quarters on their property, Rowan's family discovers a skeleton buried beneath the floorboards. Rowan and her best friend love a mystery so they begin trying to figure out who the skeleton was and who murdered him nearly 100 years ago. Their main clue is a receipt for a Victrola with two sets of initials on it.
In alternating chapters, Will is living in Tulsa during the time of the Jim Crow laws. After he is part of a violent incident based on race, his vision of life begins to change and he is pulled deeper into the divide between white and black.
I was trying to explain the book to my husband and he ended up confused because SO MUCH happens here but it is all expertly woven into the story. I was captivated by both timelines and fooled about the identity of the skeleton several times. The mystery in Dreamland Burning is great and the book would be worth reading for that reason alone, but there are three other parts to the book that are even more important to me.
1. The Tulsa riot. I think of myself as pretty educated and yet I am pretty constantly learning about things I never knew. These riots are one of those things about which I had never heard before this book. In this case, it appears that might partly be because Tulsa covered up the riot which is shocking in itself. The basic facts about the riot that I know so far are already horrifying and I know that more research is in my future. Not to mention the treatment of the Osage in requiring a white custodian of their money. SMH...
2. The characters in the book are all kinds of good and bad and many of them are both at different times in the story. Our introduction to Will shows him to be not so great but by the end of the book he is quite heroic. His father transforms in another way. Even Rowan, while not as dramatic of a change, comes to some realizations that change her character throughout the book. I am impressed with how Latham is able to build depth into her characters somewhat effortlessly, by which I mean it looks effortless from the outside but probably took a lot of effort on her part. Like many real people they are layered and flawed, not easily pinned as good or bad.
3. The issues of race are twined into every event in the story. Oh sure, there is a build up to a huge race massacre, but the uncomfortable, everyday ways in which race impacts our lives is ever present in Dreamland Burning. There is plenty of racism. most of it overt, in Will's storyline which you would expect at the time of Jim Crow. But more importantly, Latham shows the many "small" ways racism is alive and well in the present. It shows up when Rowan attends a concert, in her reaction to a homeless man, in the way her father is treated by authorities, in her own feelings about how people of color are treated, and in a dozen other ways that aren't labeled by the author with a neon sign but that are just part of modern day reality we manage to gloss over.
5.0 out of 5 starsDreamland Burning is a story that will stay with me forever
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 11, 2018
I hadn't heard much about this book and I hadn't read the synopsis so I knew I was in for a surprise. However, I didn't know it was going to be that much of a surprise. The only thing I'd heard about this book was that it was a 'murder mystery set in two different time periods'. Which it kind of is, but it also kind of isn't. One thing I want to mention very quickly is the asexual representation in this book. It isn't mentioned much and isn't a plot point which is why I'm not going to waffle on about it. However, a main character is asexual, I thought the representation was done well and it was so natural. Now, onto the main part of this book. Half this book is set during the 1921 Tulsa Race Riots. It follows William who is half native American and half white American as he befriends a young black girl and later on, her brother. I hadn't heard about the Tulsa Race Riots before and looking through the goodreads reviews, neither had many people and I find that horrifying. However, this post isn't a history lesson, I have a twitter thread if you want to learn more about that. This half of the story was realistic and immersed me in what the race riots must have felt like. I was constantly on the edge of my metaphorical seat wanting to make sure my characters were okay. The second half of this story is set around Rowan, a half black, half white American who discovers a dead body in her house and she sets out to find out about who the body is and what happened. This half of the story mentions how racism is still in present day and how not much has changed since 1921. Overall: This story holds an important message about racism while also uncovering a tragic event that happened and has seemingly been brushed under the carpet. This book has had a lasting impact on me and I recommend this book to anyone and everyone.