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Dream Country

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  297 ratings  ·  89 reviews
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 Afr
Hardcover, 376 pages
Published September 11th 2018 by Dutton Books for Young Readers
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3.98  · 
Rating details
 ·  297 ratings  ·  89 reviews

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Tori (InToriLex)

Content Warning: Rape, Substance Abuse, Graphic Violence, Sexually Explicit Language

This is a unflinching look at the many ways Liberia is tied to African American history. I only knew little about Liberian history and the African American colony there started by slaves, before reading this book. This book follows a family throughout time and across continents who have survived American slavery, Liberian Civil War and immigrating to America to start over. The changing point of views stood ou
Nenia ☠️ Khaleesi of Bodice Rippers, Protector of Out of Print Gems, Mother of Smut, and Actual Garbage Can ☠️ Campbell

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I'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 wan
Sep 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was so hard to read, but also so important. I think my critiques are just that I wanted more time with the characters, but that also would’ve been really painful. There was also some historical context I didn’t understand. Some characters were called white but really weren’t, and some were called half-caste (I thought this was white/black) when it was American Black/Liberian. But yeah.

This was so heavy and so... like, lots of in depth ideas I had not considered, combined with history I did
Faith Simon
Jan 20, 2019 added it
Shelves: dnf
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 couldn’t sit through reading this.
Part of the reason was the language in which the characters speak, I couldn’t really follow it very well, most of the time I had to take
Sep 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
“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, woven throughout a tapestry of generations, struggling with what freedom means to each of them. Told through five perspectives spanning from the early 1800’s to the present, we see the common threads of dreams, identity, and hope in each of their stories. This is a
Emily Housworth
Oct 31, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: cloud-library
3.5 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
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 the eyes of one of the contemporary members of the family. We begin in today's Minneapolis area with a boy named Kollie, whose parents send him back to the land from where he was a refugee -- Liberia. From there, we travel back to family that grew up in Liberia, then back even further to family which had been indentured servants in the US prior to the Civil War; the ...more
Apr 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shannon Gibney’s second novel is flat out amazing. It is raw and revealing and captivated me on every level.
“Then he came back out on the porch and sat there for hours, watching the sun rise. Wondering if his own history was just a dream-loop folding back on itself over and over again, in endless variation and repetition, always in search of a place to rest.” - Dream Country (page 321).

Dream Country tells the story, in alternating voices, of five generations of a black family stretching from pre-Civil War era America to 20th century Liberia, and back to present day America. It begins with Kollie Flomo
This was a 3.5 read for me

Thoughts coming shortly
Rich in Color
Review copy: ARC via publisher

(Content warnings for graphic violence, rape, police violence, racial slurs, and homophobic slurs.)

Shannon Gibney’s Dream Country is a heartbreaking look into the history of a family across two continents and almost two centuries. The sections of the novel are out of chronological order, but this back and forth between time and place effectively builds a sense of connectivity between the generations. This is most notable in how Gibney portrays violence rippling acro
Mary Turck
Jan 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Beginning with a Liberian immigrant family in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota in 2008, Dream Country zig zags through time and space, telling stories from Liberian colonization and civil war to African American and Liberian American present day. Each segment focuses on an individual within a family, showing not only the individual struggle but also the inextricably linked family dynamic. The individual story segments bring to life the historical settings and events, from Liberian colonization to civi ...more
Nov 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
WOW. I knew this book would be phenomenal, and it was. There are special books out there that open up a whole new experience, a whole new way of looking at the world. Dream Country is one of those books. My privilege means I had no idea about the history and current conflicts in Liberia. I am in awe of these stories and sacrifices. It is an important, moving book. I love "family sagas", though that's a cliche description of a book like this. But the connections between people and their stories w ...more
Sep 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
While the story structure isn't my favorite, telling the story of a family working backwards and forwards in time actually worked in this instance. This is a part of history that I didn't really have any idea about other than a vague (really, really, really vague) idea that slaves moved/were sent/somewhere in between to what became Liberia maybe sometime in the 1800's or something. I did start the book and then immediately took my ignorant ass over to Wikipedia to brush up on Liberia history.
Scottsdale Public Library
One family, five generations, and multiple journeys as they all search for their definition of freedom. This powerful read is eye-opening, relatable, full of depth, and quite sad. It's not a cheerful read, but it is an excellent one. Dream Country, a YA (young adult) historical fiction, is worth a checkout for teens and adults alike. –Megan G.
Sep 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-own, arcs
So excited to be part of the Dream Country blog tour!!! Check out my post on including my review and some Read Alikes for the characters!
Sep 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This novel was heart wrenching. It follows five different generations of one family as they navigate counties and face hardships and heartbreak. The writing was truly excellent and the author did an amazing job with among each point of view sound like a different voice.

I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Aug 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Since I have lived in the Twin Cities, the world that Gibney's novel initially dropped me into was not all that unfamiliar. There is a great deal of friction between the African immigrant and African American (descended from slaves) communities there (and many other places). The plot line extends for the entire book, snippets tracing back into history in Liberia and America and then forward again to modern America, centers around this conflict between what others would call two black cultures, a ...more
Jul 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a free Galley copy from Penguin Random House First to Read program.

This book was so many things for me. It was a history lesson first and foremost but in the most entertaining and engrossing way. This book reveals and uncovers a part of African and American history that I believe the majority of readers from all backgrounds likely no little about, the colonization of Liberia. If you Google “Liberia colonization” the first hit (Wikipedia) describes it succinctly as , “ Liberia is a cou
Oct 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing

There's so much we don't know, history that is erased or never even written down, truths that are hidden from us. Dream Country starts right here in the U.S. and takes us to Liberia, which I didn't know a thing about before first meeting Shannon. Throughout history, I've heard references to talk about sending Black Americans "back to Africa," but I had no idea someone actually did that. I especially had no idea that not only did some free Black people "return" to Africa, but that they set up a c
I accepted the publisher's offer of an advance copy of Dream Country because I'm looking for more culturally diverse YA titles for our library and because the only things I know about Liberia are that it's somewhere in West Africa and the flag looks vaguely American. I gave it a try, but in the end it just wasn't what I was hoping for.

Dream Country starts off with Kollie, a teenage boy who immigrated to Minnesota with his family from Liberia as a child because of the civil war. Poor Kollie is th
Jan 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Overwhelming, devastating, so incredibly moving. I cannot do a review that would be enough. Five stars are certainly not enough! I highly recommend the Audible version which really brings it alive with Bahni Tirpin’s passionate, sympathetic voice and consistently authentic-sounding accents.

Other reviewers have put significant time and effort into outlining thoughts on the storyline and characters. I’ll just say I had goosebumps, over and over, while listening to this epic family saga and the ho
If those who live in the United States know much about Liberia, it is that it became the new home for many slaves and free people of color. But that's not the whole story, of course, and how its new residents behaved once they arrived is fascinating. The author explores those experiences and many others through five different generations of a family whose youngest members are currently living in Minneapolis. She covers two centuries, from 1827 to 2018, but not in a linear fashion, instead, choos ...more
Jun 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Summary: This book follows five generations from one African American family and is spread out over two countries (America and Liberia and many time periods. It starts off following Kollie, a teenage refugee living in Minneapolis in 2008, who faces discrimination from his peers while at the same time being worn down from his family. When his part of the story comes to an end, we find ourselves in 1926 Liberia, following along as Togar attempts to flee a militia that wants to force him to work th ...more
Aug 21, 2018 added it
Shelves: netgalley, ya-read
In 2017, when our library chose Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi as a 'One Book, One Community' title, our teen librarians compiled a list of related YA reading. They came up with plenty of suggestions, but I wish this one had been published, because it's the perfect tie-in. In fact, it's almost too obvious - the two books even share a necklace that's passed from generation to generation. I read a digital ARC, and I wonder if the eventual print edition will have a family tree in the front like Gyasi's boo ...more
LeAnn Suchy
Jun 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
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 on.

And I am also excited our students will learn more 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 i
Geri Katz
Oct 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A gorgeous depiction of the intergenerational trauma wrought by colonialism, slavery and war.
Lin Salisbury
Jun 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Dream Country by Shannon Gibney
At the age of 23, author Shannon Gibney was awarded a prestigious Carnegie Mellon fellowship and traveled to Ghana to research the connections between African Americans and continental Africans. While there, she stumbled upon the history of Liberia—colonized in the 19th century by freed African American slaves only to recreate the conditions of oppression they had fled from in America. It was a story that held her captive for twenty years, wrestling with whether or
Oct 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book is really impressive from a craft perspective. I liked it at about the same level as See No Color (though in very different ways), but the structure here is incredible, and I'll be thinking about this book for a while.

We jump back and forward in time, across continents and oceans. We follow characters who see themselves in a lot of different ways. They almost all want some kind of freedom, but what that freedom looks like and what/who that freedom is from varies. This is a story of the
Mrs. Kenyon
Nov 27, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018-audiobooks
Kollie is having trouble adjusting in America as a Liberian refugee. He doesn’t fit in with the African American’s in his school and doesn’t understand the expectations of his Liberian family. They have threatened to send him back to Monrovia, but Kollie doesn’t believe them. The story then changes to the previous century when Togar is in Liberia and on the run from the militia. They want him to work on the plantations started by the African American slaves that colonized Liberia in the nineteen ...more
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Shannon Gibney was born in 1975, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She was adopted by Jim and Sue Gibney about five months later, and grew up with her two (biological) brothers, Jon and Ben.

Shannon has loved to read and to write as far back as she can remember. When she was in second grade, she started making “books” about her family’s camping trips, and later graduated to a series on three sibling detectiv
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