"The dead always have stories to tell," and they find a voice in Rowan Chase, a 17-year-old biracial girl. Rowan is shocked when renovators discover an old skeleton under the floorboards of her family's 100-year-old property in Tulsa, Okla. With only an old wallet and a faded receipt found among the remains, Rowan launches an investigation into the skeleton's identity.
In a parallel story set in 1921, 17-year-old half-white, half-Osage Will Tillman's world is changing in baffling ways. The Ku Klux Klan's power is rapidly growing in Tulsa, and Will's white father makes a surprising and unorthodox business deal with a young black delivery boy. Racial tensions are rising and Jim Crow laws make such deals highly illegal. Will sees how "complicated the world really [is]" as Tulsa spirals toward a violent eruption.
Based on Tulsa's 1921 race riot, one of the deadliest in U.S. history, Dreamland Burning raises questions about historical truth, segregation and more. Rowan and Will tell their respective stories in alternating chapters, each with a strong narrative voice, revealing unexpected commonalities in their experiences. Latham's skillful handling of race, choice and opportunity is impressive. No character is beyond redemption, and in the end, all must answer for their actions. --Kyla Paterno, former children's & YA book buyer