- ISBN-13: 9781481424639
- ISBN-10: 1481424637
- Publisher: Atheneum Books
- Publish Date: May 2016
- Page Count: 288
- Reading Level: Ages 9-13
- Dimensions: 7.6 x 5.3 x 1.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 0.7 pounds
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-03-14
- Reviewer: Staff
It’s 1953, and although race relations in the small town of Celeste, Ky., seem smooth, tensions bubble below the surface. When an 11-year-old black girl, Callie Robinson, starts following a stray dog, she crosses paths with Wendell Crow, a white boy her age who is looking for an abandoned cabin his father used to visit. An uneasy friendship blossoms as they begin to search for Jim, a boy whose name is carved into the cabin and who Callie is sure has a connection to the dog. Meanwhile Jim, a ghost who hasn’t yet realized that he’s dead, is unsure how he ended up in the cabin, which is also inhabited by another child’s ghost whose past ties to the cabin’s history as part of the Underground Railroad. Dowell (Anybody Shining) shifts focus among these and other characters, sensitively examining the ways that injustices past and present take a toll on communities and individuals. The consequences of taking a stand against racist attitudes are portrayed with realistic complexity as Dowell builds to a conclusion that offers glimmers of hope without sugarcoating the persistence of prejudice. Ages 9–13. (May)
A poignant coming-of-age story in 1953
Award-winning author Frances O’Roark Dowell’s latest book is a page-turner, but not in the traditional sense. The plot doesn’t race along at breakneck speed, nor is there a life-or-death mystery to be solved. There are no car chases or spies or evil villains. Readers of Dowell’s previous books will understand that the appeal of Trouble the Water is the author’s top-notch character building and storytelling prowess.
The town of Celeste, Kentucky, in 1953 is no hotbed of politics and civil rights. But to Callie, neither is it the worst place to live. The 11-year-old watches the black people live and prosper on her side of town and only quietly resents the new white school and the whites-only swimming pool. When the white boy Wendell comes to her side of town and wants to help her find the owner of a mysterious wandering dog, she figures that’s his business. Yet as their friendship blooms, tensions come to a boil.
Dowell has given us a true hero in the character of Callie, a girl just realizing what segregation means in her life. Understanding that she can’t change the world unless she’s willing to change herself first, Callie’s journey by way of a small mystery and meaningful friendship brings the past and present together in unexpected ways. The anticipation to see how Callie ends up in this turbulent time will keep you turning the pages, as promised.