Trouble Down South and Other Stories by Katrina Parker Williams is a collection of 12 historical fiction short stories which explores themes from an African-American perspective on living in the southern part of the United States over the past 200 years. I knew from the book title the stories would not necessarily fall in the "happily ever-after" category as while we need to know the stories regarding African-Americans and the South, many include painful memories. The stories cover a range of topics dealing with issues of humanity over the changing times in Southern history, but all of the stories have a common theme of dignity and strength of character.
As in most short story collections, there are some stories that will resonate more than others depending on the reader. My favorites in this collection were the stories that were short length-wise. As in poetry, much can be said in a few well-turned phases. In three pages, the story Revolt in the Cherokee Nation, I learned about which of the Native American tribes were slaveholders; dispelling the myth among many African-Americans that Native Americans were their friends during slavery. In The Toll of War, a proud and honorable black marine returning from Vietnam is spit upon by an elderly white man, learning that hate can run deep in your own country.
While I enjoyed Ms. Williams' elegant writing style and her ability to make difficult topics palatable, there was not much new territory covered in the stories regarding African-Americans and their trials and tribulations in the South. What was new and refreshing were the stories which included the Native Americans and how they fit into the Southern landscape. I would have liked for the author to explore further in this area in the short stories, or perhaps this will be done in the future as a full-length novel. The stories often tell heart-breaking events, and while I commend the author for telling them in a no-nonsense manner I would have liked to see a little more passion to the words as I often felt emotionally detached from the stories.
I recommend this book to readers of historical fiction and short stories. It would be wonderful for this book to be in school libraries to allow high school students to explore history through the eyes of individuals.
This book was provided by the publisher for review purposes.