Trouble the Water

“…a spooky, slow-burning, multi-layered novel, with lively and pitch-perfect dialogue reminiscent of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.” *

From the award-winning author of Dovey Coe comes a sweeping tale of the friendship between a black girl and a white boy and the prejudices they must overcome in segregated Celeste, Kentucky, as the pair try to solve the mysteries surrounding a lonely old dog.


Eleven-year-old Callie is fearless, stubborn, and a little nosy. So when she sees an old yellow dog wandering around town by itself, you can bet she’s going to figure out who he belongs to. But when her sleuthing leads her to cross paths with a white boy named Wendell who wants to help, the segregated town doesn’t take too kindly to their budding friendship.

Meanwhile, a nearly invisible boy named Jim is stuck in a cabin in the woods. He’s lost his dog, but can’t remember exactly when his pup’s disappeared. When his companion, a little boy named Thomas, who’s been invisible much longer than he, explains that they are ghosts, the two must figure out why they can’t seem to cross the river to the other side just yet…

And as Callie and Wendell’s search for the old dog brings them closer and closer to the cabin in the woods, the simmering prejudices of the townspeople boil over.

Trouble the Water is a story that spans lifetimes, showing that history never truly disappears, and that the past will haunt us until we step up to change the present and stand together for what is right.

* Shelf Awareness, April 20, 2016

“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… Dowell 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. —Publishers Weekly