Dreamland Burning

  • Type: Books
  • By: Jennifer Latham
  • Age Category: Teens
  • Genre: Historical Fiction
  • Recommended by: Tom S.
  • ISBN/UPC: 9780316384933
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The Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921

This year marks the 100th anniversary of one of the most shameful episodes in American history.  Following an incident involving two teens – a Black male shoeshiner and a White female elevator operator – armed White mobs descended upon Tulsa’s predominately Black districts to “avenge” what the newspapers called an assault.  The mobs were met with armed resistance from within the Black community and a two-day war ensued, leaving the Black business district in flames and anywhere from 100-300 people dead.

This book employs dual narrators – a White boy from 1921 and a mixed-race Black girl from the modern day – to both tell the story of the riot and investigate a contemporary mystery that may or may not be connected to the horrors of 1921.  Furthermore, the author has a lot to say about both historic and modern racism, and her narrative technique allows her to show parallels that are not always comfortable to read about.

This is an engaging story about a dark time in our history that nonetheless holds out hope that maybe – just maybe – we can do better.