cover image Trouble the Water

Trouble the Water

Frances O’Roark Dowell. S&S/Atheneum/Dlouhy, $16.99 (288p) ISBN 978-1-4814-2463-9

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)