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REVIEW Dream Country

The heartbreaking story of five generations of young people from a single African and American family pursuing an elusive dream of freedom The novel begins in suburban Minneapolis at the moment when seventeen year old Kollie Flomo begins to crack under the strain of his life as a Liberian refugee He's exhausted by being at once too black and not black enough for his African American peers and worn down by the expectations of his own Liberian family and community When his frustration finally spills into violence and his parents send him back to Monrovia Instagram Twitter Facebook PinterestI ve said many times in my reviews that the YA genre needs to start taking risks For about a decade YA has been snowballing towards safe and stale Young adults are young adults and I personally think as a reader and a writer that we need to stop acting like teens and adults in their early twenties need to be protected from difficult subjects or explicit content as 1 they re going to go ahead and find it anyway if they really want to read it so you might as well to try and do it well and for the intended audience and 2 it s not like teens aren t experiencing things like sex swearing alcohol and bigotryracism in their everyday livesSo before I even get into the content of DREAM COUNTRY I want to say that I appreciate that the author didn t try to dumb down the difficult subjects in her book which was to my surprise for young adults There is a lot of graphic content everything from genocide to rape to racism colorism privilege explicit language multiple uses of the N word especially but also the C word as well as white supremacy and slaveryDREAM COUNTRY is a multi generational family saga centering around a Liberian family The first narrator Kollie is a high school student in the early noughties who struggles with not being black enough to fit in with the American black students but also very much conscious of the racism he faces as a man of color and the xenophobia he faces as an immigrant The second narrator is Togar which takes place in the late 1920s Togar is trying to escape the militant slavers who are forcing Liberians to work the plantations owned by ex slaves who colonized Liberia in the 1800s Yasmine is one of those ex slaves who thinks that Liberia will be a new chance for her and her children but she is taken aback by the sickness the poor health conditions and the rural conditions Then there s Ujay and Evelyn whose narrative is set in the 1980s during the Liberian Civil war The story ends full circle with Angel Kollie s younger sister who is now an adult in the 2010sAs I said this book is written the way it would be for any adult Gibney does not balk at the idea of communicating the horrors of slavery racism and war to kids And really I think most kids don t have any idea how horrific such events are because freuently they are sugar coated or glorified in children s fiction Reading this book makes you fully cognizant of the stakes It actually reminded me a lot of Yaa Gyasi s HOMEGOING although between you and me I thought HOMEGOING was a better book because each character was fleshed out and their story fully developedThat actually brings me to my biggest complaint with DREAM COUNTRY it felt like an unfinished book The characters stories didn t really close in a satisfying way and in my opinion the most interesting POVs ended way too soon and the less interesting POVs dragged on forever I would have liked to learn about Togar or see what Kollie s experience was like when his parents sent him to Liberia Angel s POV felt like an afterthought and Ujay s was the only historical POV that actually provided new perspective on his descendants whereas the others really didn t in my opinionDREAM COUNTRY isn t a bad book by any means and it does some pretty amazing things but there were also many points where I found myself bored by the subject matter and given the nature of the subject matter that should not be the case I m going to donate my copy to a high school now that I ve done with it Hopefully the kids will enjoy it than I did 3 stars

READ Ô SABLEYES.CO.UK Å Shannon Gibney

Dream Country

To reform school the story shifts Like Kollie readers travel back to Liberia but also back in time to the early twentieth century and the point of view of Togar Somah an eighteen year old indigenous Liberian on the run from government militias that would force him to work the plantations of the Congo people descendants of the African American slaves who colonized Liberia almost a century earlier When Togar's section draws to a shocking close the novel jumps again back to America in 1827 to the children of Yasmine Wright who leave a Virginia plantation w 35 stars During the first few chapters of this book I did not think I would like it at all I totally believe that racism still exists in our schools but the stories of the modern day Minneapolis school seemed a bit unrealistic to me The thing that really tripped me up was the use of Brooklyn Center High School Why not use a fictional school since the events and characters in this book are fictional BUT once Kollie s story was done I really started to enjoy the book I learned so much about Liberia considering I knew next to nothing before The stories about the African slaves who went to Liberia to colonize were so fascinating especially to see how former slaves became the slavers Super sad I did find myself getting confused in parts for example the American Africans are referred to as white by the native Africans but this wasn t explained till much later in the book so the whole time I was so confused as to why all the people from Congo were white haha I also had a hard time following the civil warrevolutionHowever the writing was good and I really appreciate any story that brings to light what refugees are facing today as well as their past sufferings I admire the author s commitment in researching this story and uncovering history that had previously remain hidden or cloudy We need diverse stories like thisI wanted to recommend this to my husband for his ESL students but the repeated use of the C word and F word probably disualify it

Shannon Gibney Å 1 FREE READ

Ith their mother for Liberia where they're promised freedom and a chance at self determination by the American Colonization Society The Wrights begin their section by fleeing the whip and by its close they are then ones who wield it With each new section the novel uncovers fresh hope and resonating heartbreak all based on historical factIn Dream Country Shannon Gibney spins a riveting tale of the nightmarish spiral of death and exile connecting America and Africa and of how one determined young dreamer tries to break free and gain control of her destiny This book will be our One Read in the fall and there is so much to discuss Racism slavery white supremacy the immigrant experience families generational repercussions and on and onAnd I am also excited our students will learn about the history of Liberia I feel so stupid that I knew nothing about how ex slaves from America horribly treated indigenous populations in Liberia and transformed that country Are we all doomed to exert power and damage over those we deem less than even if it s happened to us It s what we know and we re all continually doing itI m still thinking about these things and I m not articulating it all that well but again so much to think about and discuss with this book A great choice for a One Read


9 thoughts on “Dream Country

  1. says:

    Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || || PinterestI've said many times in my reviews that the YA genre needs to start taking risks For about a decade YA has been snowballing towards safe and stale Young adults are young adults and I personally think as a reader and a writer that we need to stop acting like teens a

  2. says:

    This was so hard to read but also so important I think my critiues are just that I wanted time with the characters but tha

  3. says:

    DNF 23% I really wanted to like this book because it’s an important book it revolves around fictionalized stories that existed and deserve to be told I feel terrible for not being able to finish it for not sticking through the stories to experience the book as a whole as a Book as important as this deserves But I just

  4. says:

    Great for a different perspective of the African experience in America it does explore a little know side of history the colonization of Liberia by Freed African American who left the USA in search of their ancestral home and how they ended up behaving in a way that reflected the reality that they suffered at the hand of the white plantations owners towards the native population of Liberia Very interesting to

  5. says:

    “You all think you hate one another precisely because we don’t about this stuff” She sighed “You done realize it yet but that is the real tragedy Not a name somebody got called”Dream Country is a beautiful journey of one family wov

  6. says:

    35 stars During the first few chapters of this book I did not think I would like it at all I totally believe that racism still exists in our schools but the stories of the modern day Minneapolis school seemed a bit unrealistic to me The thing that really tripped me up was the use of Brooklyn Center High School Why not use a fictional school s

  7. says:

    This is an incredible story of a family impacted by the African diaspora The book is told in a non linear fashion as seen through t

  8. says:

    This book will be our One Read in the fall and there is so much to discuss Racism slavery white supremacy the immigrant experience families generational repercussions and on and onAnd I am also excited our students will learn about th

  9. says:

    Shannon Gibney’s second novel is flat out amazing It is raw and revealing and captivated me on every level