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review 2018-12-22 05:19
Subject worth reading about
Dreamland Burning - Jennifer Latham

I noticed a large trend in these kinds of books where it’s half in the present, and half in the past. It’s not a trend I particularly like as I adore historical fiction and mixing it with things happening in present day takes away the historical aspect, but I gave this book a chance. This one grabbed my attention because of the subject which interests me. I have not heard of the Tulsa Race Riot until I grabbed this book. It was an eye opener, and definitely something that can’t be ignored or forgotten.

 

The switch between Rowan and William is seamless and flows throughout the novel. Rowan attempts to figure out the mystery behind the skeleton while William’s story not only gives you the background information but also gives you the sense and the climate on how it was for African Americans back in those times. The historical aspects of the book is well written and gives you a good general idea.

 

At first, William doesn’t seem that all a likable character. As the plot progresses though, you change your mind as his behavior and outlook changes to something much  more favorable. Rowan’s side of the story is interesting too. She’s been pretty much sheltered in a good, privileged life who is also suddenly awakened by recent events affecting herself and others around her. She’s a well written character as well, but I’d have to say I prefer reading William’s side of the story more as I found Rowan’s point of view dragged in a few areas of the story.

 

The plot overall is well done and interesting. The mystery and historical elements of the story also keeps the plot engaging and it’s a good educational read.  Definitely something to read more into and a good subject to write about.

 

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review 2018-03-07 00:00
Dreamland Burning
Dreamland Burning - Jennifer Latham 3.5 Stars

An historical fiction /mystery story loosely based on on the time of The Tulsa Rasce Riots of 1921. At the heart of this novel is a mystery and it was interesting and entertaining reading.

Seventeen year old Ronan Chase finds a skeleton on her family property and has no idea that investigating the brutal century old murder will lead to a summer of painful discoveries about the past, the present and herself.

A fast paced read where two stories are told in two different time frames which worked really well for me. I didn't know anything about this time in history and while I leaned only a little in this novel it has sparked my interest to read more and I think that is why I enjoy historical fiction books.
I probably would have rated this one a little higher but some of the story and the characters felt just a little contrived. However an enjoyable and entertaining read and a book that informed me of an event in history that I knew nothing about.
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review 2017-04-02 04:52
Dreamland Burning
Dreamland Burning - Jennifer Latham

Title: Dreamland Burning
Author: Jennifer Latham
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Reviewed By: Arlena Dean
Rating: Five
Review:

"Dreamland Burning" by Jennifer Latham

My Conclusion from reading ...'Dreamland Burning'.....

After I saw a news coverage in my area about this author, her new novel "Dreamland Burning" and especially with her being from my area I knew I wanted to read her novel and also met her[and even got her autograph]. I am so glad to say I had that privilege of three things.....meeting this author, reading"Dreamland Burning" and reviewing her excellent read.

When I was in college...many years ago I did a paper on 'Tulsa's Race Riot 1921' so when I saw and heard what this novel was about I knew I had to read it. Even though it is a genre as a historic fiction it is mixed with some mystery and truth that I found in the history of the 'race riot' was fairly right on the mark of what had gone on in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1921. At that time there was 'extreme racism, discrimination and hate especially toward and against African-Americans'. This 'race riot' resulted in the death of hundreds of black African-Americans and the destruction of the Greenwood area of town of Tulsa was known to be one of 'the worst incidents of racial violence in the U.S. history.' What shocks me even today is that many people know absolutely nothing of this incident. It did happen people!

This author really gives the reader some descriptions of certain areas that I was able to pick up and know the area in which was spoken about. A lots of these locations described in the read are still located in Tulsa today.

My thoughts on how this author presents this story using the past/present version [alternating perspectives in different time periods] was really quite unique in how it was done using two main diverse characters...

Rowan Chase:[as the story is from the present] living in the modern day in Tulsa[2017].... a seventeen year old, bi-racial...her mother was African -American and her father was white...from a wealthy family...went to private school and they even had a servant's quarters. For Rowan lived in a 'post-racial society and a fairly sheltered life.' Rowan's mother was a lawyer and her father was a doctor.

And then we have .... a little connection...with these two main characters....The Chase's home where the skeleton [I know I am getting a little ahead of the story] was found had been commissioned to be built by William's parents in 1921. The money that was used to build this home was however, not from William's father but his Osage mother. Now, why was that?

William Tillman [as the story is from the past] living in Tulsa in 1921 during the Tulsa Race Riot... a bi-racial boy seventeen year old living with ...his mother who was Native American [Osage] and his father is white. William's father was the owner of a Victrola store. This period of time of this [past]story was between May 31 and June 1st, 1921 when Jim Crow was at its height.

I loved how this story will alternate back and forth from Rowan to William to Roman back to William all the way to the end of the read. You get a Part I and even a Part II. So, nothing is left but for you to do but start reading! I took several days because I wanted to absorb all of the well written story even though some of the read had such 'virulent hatred that just leaped off the page' that caused me to really shake my head and wonder how can some human beings be so cruel. But that's the way it was back then or is it still like this for some African-American people in some form or another?

How does this all start....

The present...
Now this author gives the reader quite a story of what happens after Rowan mother gets the 'old servant's quarters' renovated and that is when a century old skeleton is found buried underneath in the backyard on the Chase property. We find Rowan who was a great protagonist setting out to discover who this was and how they died by doing some amateur detective research. Oh, I will say at this point Rowan had some help with all of her investigating and that was her best friend, James who just happened to be a asexual character [Oh Yes!] and just happened to be 'part Kiowa and part Black.'
What happens while Rowan is interning at a local clinic in Tulsa where there will be issues of racism, and social inequality that turned out to be quite a eye opener for her?

The past...
The story comes in where William who goes to a 'Two -Knock'' with his friend Cletus Hayes and gets upset seeing a white girl [that he liked] being touched by a black man named Clarence Banks. There will be a lots of tension built from this situation ...because this was definitely a no no at this time in history. Now, what all will become of this situation when it was known at this time in history that.....even

"Glancing sideways at a white woman was near enough to get Negroes lynched in Tulsa. Shot, even, in the middle of Main Street at noon, and with no more consequence than a wink and a nudge and a slap on the back."

This author gives the reader chapter after chapter of the days leading up to the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 and I will say it wasn't a pretty read at all for me. As the read goes on we find that William worked in his father's shop where he comes involved with two African-Americans...Joseph and Ruby. Now I will stop here and only say you will have to pick up this good read to see who they were and how they played into this very interesting story. I will not say who but their is another character that really I didn't care for and oh ....well I will say just pick this up this enthralling read and see for yourself who this person was that was one creep as you read through the read.

Now if you continue to read 'Dreamland Burning' you will get one twisted story that will go back and forth giving the reader quite a historical fiction read but it doesn't stray away from the truth of just what was going on [DURING THAT TIME PERIOD]. "What will happen as William must decide which side he is on and what to do about his decision?"

The characters in the past/present were all off the chart [but there were a few I didn't care for at all] but for the most part I found some were well developed but also complexed too, well portrayed, defined and even down right believable. The the reader is given this 'incredible as well as a astonishing read that will give one something to think about long after you put this engrossing read down. I will say even though there was some 'profiling, violence racial slur [n-word] may have been used I felt it was used to give a true understand and the effect of that particular situation at that time. I thought it was well done by this author and I liked the note the author left concerning why she used those racial slurs in her read.

What will happen when these two versions from different centuries come out and their stories intertwine as harsh truths from the past and present begin to surface?

Now, I know a lots of people may not be interested in this kind of historical fiction read but it was good read about racism all up front and center even as the past/present racism was showed... due to the color of their skin and the injustice that it causes. This is where I say again you will have to pick up this good read of 'Dreamland Burning' to see how Rowan becomes 'savior of the present day in Tulsa and Williams story of the past that happened in 1921 comes together so smoothly. All of the questions asked and more will be answered as the reader reads on and on to the very end.

By the end the reader will be given one amazing read...full of historical fiction, ninety year old mystery, murder with some other complex themes that one will definitely be able to relate to its humanity during this social unrest at that time. The author brings the story all together giving the reader the 'understanding of this history [Tulsa Riot 1921] and its mysterious skeleton.' I felt that this author did a heck of a good job as she was able to give the reader of "Dreamland Burning' that takes place at two different times/ places and in the end bringing it all together before us as we are given definitely a eye opening all front and center of what had truly happened in this whole story.

I will say that this author really did some extensive research work giving the readers quite a story even though it is historical fiction but how she brings in two main characters who were bi-racial...dealing with the issue of racism and hate crimes were truly well done with such humility and tack. It definitely presents the problems that has happened in the past and even addresses the present in the 'prevalence of the same issues we still see every single day whether one wants to admit that the Tulsa Riot of 1921 did happen. Well done to you and thank you for giving the reader one excellent well thought out riveting read. I hope many who may not have heard of the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 will know that this did happen right here in great city of Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1921. "Dreamland Burning" is not only a important novel but one smart one that may not have all the answers but ultimately hopeful ones to pull from. Is there room still for growth as our Tulsa society when it comes to race issues? YES!

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review 2016-02-16 13:00
Thoughts: Scarlett Undercover
Scarlett Undercover - Jennifer Latham

Scarlett Undercover -- Jennifer Latham

 

 

Scarlett Undercover is quick, fun, and fast-paced. The writing style and narration reads smoothly and the progression is pretty straight forward. Character-wise, it is quite non-mainstream, with a Muslim American teenager girl as the protagonist, who was also quite different in personality that the typical YA female heroine as well--definitely quite refreshing.

I'm not familiar with Muslim culture or Islamic religion, so I can't really comment on the authenticity of the portrayal. But it was interesting, nonetheless--just as well, reading through the reviews on GR, there are some pretty conflicting opinions about how well Latham managed to write in the perspective of Scarlett and how well she presents the culture in this book.

Again, I won't really comment on that aspect.

Instead, I'll just mention that, as a YA sleuthing crime thriller, Scarlett Undercover DOES cover a good sense of thrill and suspense. The mystery part of was quite predictable, though. And I would have liked to see more investigating going on rather than so much of Scarlett simply thrusting herself into reckless danger time and time again.

Character developments were quite flat, though and I found myself not really caring much for any of them much... except maybe the dog, Jones.

I like that Scarlett is different from other standard YA heroines--and I don't just mean because she's Muslim American. Scarlett is ballsy and snarky. And even though she turns out to be special, in a way, she never gives off that typical "The Special Chosen One" speshul snowflake vibe. She's just another teenage girl who happened to graduate high school early and now runs her own private investigating firm--as out of the ordinary as that description in itself sounds, Scarlett doesn't come off any more extraordinary than any other random girl you might know.


I DO like the brief glimpses of those personal conflicting ideals Scarlett has, being born and raised in America surrounded by American ideals and behaviors, while simultaneously being raised in a Muslim family with her own cultural ways hanging in the background. Being exposed to two fairly different ways of life can be a confusing way to grow up--I'm quite familiar with this concept.

There's that familial culture developed within you and that is a part of you, but you still try to break free of any part of your culture you don't quite agree with. Or you try to incorporate other aspects of the American culture you prefer, even if unsuccessfully because Mom and Dad don't like it or don't understand it. Or you try to explain aspects of your own culture to your mainly American group of friends you go to school with and they don't understand it or continue to be confused and now everyone thinks you're strange.


Or cultural clashing happens between your native culture and the mainstream culture surrounding you, thus causing even more personality conflicts than you'd like to handle. And people thought just being a teenager was confusing enough.

In Scarlett's case, it's between Muslim culture and American culture.

In my case, I spent a lot of time growing up and trying to mold myself in one direction or another depending on which culture I'd just walked out of, Chinese culture versus American culture. You feel like an in-between--not quite American, not quite Chinese. And you spend the majority of your childhood and teenage years trying to figure out which direction to go or if you even need to go in any direction at all.

Sometimes, it's still an ongoing battle depending on who you interact with even after years of being more comfortable with your lifestyle and accepting that both cultural aspects in your life need to just learn to live peacefully with each other.

But anyway, tangent finished, back to the book...


Some Final Thoughts:
I hadn't quite been expecting it, so the slight supernatural aspects of parts of the book gave me pause. I liked how the book dove into history and used that as a baseboard for the case that Scarlett is working on. But the supernatural aspects were a little awkward being inserted into the story suddenly, and I can't quite put my finger on why.

My only other complaint is that, despite liking how unique Scarlett is, I also have some issues with her dry snark, if only because it felt a little forced at times: sort of in a "Haha, I made a funny" type of way, but no one's really laughing cause we're not sure if it was really a joke or not.

Otherwise, Scarlett Undercover was a pretty entertaining read. Even if I DID find some instances a bit meh.

***

2016 Reading Challenges:
Goodreads Reading Challenge
BookLikes Reading Challenge
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text 2016-02-07 04:54
First Impression: Up to Chapter 3
Scarlett Undercover - Jennifer Latham

First of all, Yay! For Diversity!

 

Secondly, I had only intended to read the first chapter or two to get a feel for how this book would be.  After chapter 3, I knew that I would probably keep going if I didn't set it down.  And I need to set it down for the time being so that I can finish the other book I'm reading.

 

But Scarlett Undercover is proving pretty fast-paced with some ongoing action, even though it doesn't really feel like there's much action yet.  But the book dives right into the story and I kind of like that in some books.  The writing is par for young adult, done very well.

 

I hope this says something about how well I'll enjoy the rest of the book.

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