East of Troost: A Novel

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Can you truly buy back the past? The narrator in East of Troost is recovering from two traumatic events: the slow death of her husband and a conflagration that torched her home in California. She has decided to seek stability in the familiar and so purchases her childhood home in Kansas City. The idea is promising; however, the house is a fixer-upper. Repairs need to be made to various rooms in the house, furnishings are sparse, and much work needs to be done to render it a home. Funds are available, but not limitless.

The neighborhood was changing before her move. The location of a freeway that cuts through her community led to an exodus of familiar faces, her parents eventually joining the majority who fled. Many familiar businesses are gone, and navigating her way around seeking food and supplies has become angst-ridden chores. A successful discovery of a hardware store or dollar store is cause for celebration. The “to-do” list changes daily. However, a break-in by a previous owner puts her on edge. Is she truly safe when it’s just her and her dog in the house? Was her sense of safety removed with her previous losses?

Rebuilding her life was never a small task, yet she is resolute in her desire to reclaim her childhood home. Every day brings with it another step in that direction, along with the occasional challenge. She must manage to renovate the house while telecommuting to work. The changing of the seasons provides new tests as well, from food growing to laundry to storm windows. Comfort is provided by various neighbors who look out for the narrator and each other. Is it possible for her to renew her life at this stage and in this place?

East of Troost proves that sometimes you can go home again. Author Ellen Barker has written an emotionally charged drama where thoughts of nostalgia compete with the predicaments of the present in the protagonist’s quest to settle down in a familiar environment. The task of starting anew is daunting, even more so when alone and coping with emotional stress. The emotional upheaval caused by her immeasurable losses is conveyed with sympathy. Her desire to put her best foot forward is admirable. The delicate topic of racism is featured throughout the narrative, and the sins of the past with respect to the racist practices of realtors and urban developers are highlighted.

It is an inspiring book that will make many a reader think about life and how we treat our neighbors.

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Author Ellen Barker
Star Count 5/5
Format Trade
Page Count 256 pages
Publisher She Writes Press
Publish Date 06-Sep-2022
ISBN 9781647422295 Buy this Book
Issue October 2022
Category Popular Fiction