The discovery of a skeleton connects the lives of two teens, a century apart, with the brutality and terror of the 1921 Tulsa race riots.
After 17-year-old Rowan Chase finds a skeleton in an outbuilding on her family’s property in Tulsa, Oklahoma, she sets out to investigate. Almost 100 years earlier, in Jim Crow–era Tulsa, 17-year-old Will Tillman finds himself at the center of violence and lawlessness on the night whites looted and burned Greenwood, a thriving African-American community within the city. In all, 35 blocks and nearly 1,300 homes and businesses were destroyed; 8,000 black Tulsans lost everything they owned; and at least 300 people died. Will is white and Osage. Like Will, Rowan is biracial (African-American and white). She comes from a wealthy family and must face her own class privilege as well as uncomfortable parallels between the century-old murder mystery she’s trying to solve and present-day race relations in her community and the nation as a whole. Alternating narration chapter by chapter between Rowan and Will, Latham presents a fast-paced historical novel brimming with unsparing detail and unshakable truths about a shameful chapter in American history. For more than 50 years, Tulsa’s schoolchildren didn’t learn about the race riot, and many outside of Tulsa remain unaware today. This masterfully told story fills this void.
An unflinching, superbly written story about family, friendship, and integrity, set during one of America’s deadliest race riots. (author’s note) (Mystery/historical fiction. 14-18)