Dreamland Burning is beautifully written with a contrast between present day and 1921 and the racial issues that plague the United States. It’s not always a “pleasant” read, but it the impact was enormous. As a white person, it’s painful to read how African Americans were treated in the not-so-long-ago past. To be black and to read this must be an entirely different level of anger and disgust.
I liked the characters and how they were from all walks of life, past and present. I think those were really intelligent choices made by the author. For example, the present day teenage main character, Rowan, was a biracial girl living a considerably privileged life. Her family was wealthy, her father was white and from a powerful family, and she went to a private school with mostly white students who she fit in with well because of her finances. This made her somewhat out of touch when it came to situations that afflicted other black Americans who didn’t have the same lifestyle. To balance her out, she had an asexual black best friend who sometimes put her in her place, so to speak. Her job in a clinic was also eye opening for her. On the other hand, the teenage boy from 1921, Will Tillman, presented an entirely different perspective. His journey was obviously the more horrendous because it depicts the race riot that took place.
I can’t lie, I’m a sucker for romance. You won’t find that in this book, though. Upon reflection I think that was a wise choice. There isn’t anything frivolous here to distract from the harsh realities that many people need to read. I enjoyed the element of mystery quite a bit. I most definitely wanted to know who the body found in Rowan’s guest house belonged to.
I rated this book a 4.5 stars. It’s so valuable and a look into an event that doesn’t seem to make it into the mainstream history books.