March 24, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham | SLJ Review

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redstarLATHAM, Jennifer. Dreamland Burning. 384p. ebook available. Little, Brown. Feb. 2017. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780316384933.

novl_logo_urlGr 8 Up –Latham follows up Scarlett Undercover with a rich work that links past and present in a tale that explores racial prejudice. After the remains of a skeleton are found in her Tulsa, OK, backyard, 17-year-old Rowan Chase becomes consumed with finding out the story behind the death. As she digs into the mystery, Rowan’s contemporary perspective alternates with that of another Tulsa teen: Will, a 17-year-old in the 1920s. Though separated by decades, the characters’ lives intersect as the mystery of the skeleton unfolds in both time periods. Race, social inequalities, and entitlement are subjects the teens grapple with as they enter adulthood, Rowan in the current day and Will during the Tulsa race riots of 1921. Latham’s enthralling, expertly paced plot will keep readers engaged, and the detailed imagery creates a strong sense of place in both time periods. The occasional mature language is deftly integrated and realistic for both the situations and the protagonists, who are relatable and well-developed. VERDICT Mystery fans will enjoy this cleverly plotted, suspenseful work, while the broader social issues will draw a wide audience. Educators will also find this title useful as a selection for discussion and cross- curricular lessons.–Tiffeni Fontno, Boston College Educational Resource Center

This review was published in the School Library Journal November 2016 issue.



  1. A lot of people wrote to ask me to do an in-depth review of this book, looking specifically at the Native characters. I hoped it would be well done, but the ways that the Native characters are done… lacks depth. They’re just names with no substance.

    Here’s a link to my review: