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Dream Country

Narrated by: Bahni Turpin
Length: 9 hrs and 6 mins
4 out of 5 stars (14 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A New York Public Library Best Book of 2018

Kirkus Best YA Historical Fiction of 2018

A Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books 2018 Blue Ribbon Book

2018 Nerdy Book Club Award Winner  

The heartbreaking story of five generations of young people from a single African-and-American family pursuing an elusive dream of freedom.

"Gut wrenching and incredible." (Sabaa Tahir, number-one New York Times best-selling author of An Ember in the Ashes)

"This novel is a remarkable achievement." (Kelly Barnhill, New York Times best-selling author and Newbery medalist)

"Beautifully epic." (Ibi Zoboi, author, American Street and National Book Award finalist) 

Dream Country begins in suburban Minneapolis at the moment when 17-year-old Kollie Flomo begins to crack under the strain of his life as a Liberian refugee. He's exhausted by being at once too black and not black enough for his African-American peers and worn down by the expectations of his own Liberian family and community. When his frustration finally spills into violence and his parents send him back to Monrovia to reform school, the story shifts. 

Like Kollie, listeners travel back to Liberia, but also back in time, to the early 20th century and the point of view of Togar Somah, an 18-year-old indigenous Liberian on the run from government militias that would force him to work the plantations of the Congo people, descendants of the African American slaves who colonized Liberia almost a century earlier. 

When Togar's section draws to a shocking close, the novel jumps again, back to America in 1827, to the children of Yasmine Wright, who leave a Virginia plantation with their mother for Liberia, where they're promised freedom and a chance at self-determination by the American Colonization Society. The Wrights begin their section by fleeing the whip and by its close, they are then the ones who wield it. With each new section, the novel uncovers fresh hope and resonating heartbreak, all based on historical fact. 

In Dream Country, Shannon Gibney spins a riveting tale of the nightmarish spiral of death and exile connecting America and Africa, and of how one determined young dreamer tries to break free and gain control of her destiny.

©2018 Shannon Gibney (P)2018 Listening Library

Critic Reviews

"A necessary reckoning." (Kirkus Reviews, starred review)

"Gibney blesses the reader with a marvelous literary tapestry of family, sacrifice, and dreams examining the lingering effects of slavery and racism in both the U.S. and Liberia. This powerful novel demonstrates how nonlinear history can be, ways the present is a consequence of the past, and that, though traumatized people can sometimes hurt others when trying to heal themselves, there’s nevertheless strength in hope that can keep us moving forward." (Booklist, starred review)

"With riveting, lyrical prose, Gibney’s accomplished novel explores universal themes of home, family, power struggles, and endurance while demonstrating the liberating power of storytelling." (Publishers Weekly, starred review)

"[H]ighlights the inconsistencies between the beliefs a country projects to the world at large and the realities experienced by immigrants.... An excellent choice." (SLJ, starred review)

What members say

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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A look back between Africans and African Americans

Loved the way she showed the differences in how Black people were treated during slavery in Africa and America. How after being in America for a while, changed the way generations of Africans when they went back to their homeland. how much the colonizers changed their way of life and thinking. Talked about Liberia's war and independence. This would be a great book to add to middle or high schools mandatory readings.

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A must read for everyone.

Dream Country is an incredible and vital work that everyone should read. Heartbreaking and eye opening .

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Sweeping historical backdrop for intimate stories

I loved this book in print and this narration. While traveling through two centuries and across two continents, each of the stops brings intimate glimpses into the lives of complex characters. it's thought-provoking and heart-rending. And worth the listen.