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East of Troost

A novel by

Under the guise of a starting-over story, this novel deals with subtle racism today, overt racism in the past, and soul-searching about what to do about it in everyday living.

East of Troost’s fictional narrator has moved back to her childhood home in a neighborhood that is now mostly Black and vastly changed by an expressway that displaced hundreds of families. It is the area located east of Troost Avenue, an invisible barrier created in the early 1900s to keep the west side of Kansas City white, “safely” cordoned off from the Black families on the east side.

When the narrator moves back to her old neighborhood in pursuit of a sense of home, she deals with crime, home repair, and skepticism—what is this middle-aged white woman doing here, living alone? Supported by a wise neighbor, a stalwart dog, and the local hardware store, we see her navigate her adult world while we get glimpses of author Ellen Barker’s real life there as a teenager in the sixties, when white families were fleeing and Black families moving in—and sometimes back out when met with hatred and violence. A regional story with universal themes,
East of Troost goes to the basics of human behavior: compassion and cruelty, fear and courage, comedy and drama.

Genre: Historical

Praise for this book

"The chapters in Ellen Barker's timely novel East of Troost read like entries in a diary - a year in the life of a white woman who decides to move into a black neighborhood. Why does she do this? Will she and her neighbors get along? We keep reading, eager to find out." - Jill McCroskey Coupe

"Ellen Barker has written a book that should give women of a certain age and privilege a lot to think about. What happens when you try to go home again, and what can you learn in the process?" - Beth Lisick

"A quiet, candid recalibration of memories against a changed landscape, Ellen Barker's East of Troost is a journey both touching and powerful, reminding us how gentle courage and faith in humanity can overcome the fear of what divides." - Lorraine Devon Wilke

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