}
  • Troubling the Ashes

  • Troubling the Ashes is a work of historical fiction that takes place in a small Alabama town, idyllic and wholesome but plagued by a bitter disease that blinds Southerners to the impending upheaval they are about to face. The disease is racism—both aggressive and passive—in the 60s and 70s.

       Blending the life experiences of the author with the violent history of the region, the story follows the fictional Marley Jane as she moves with her husband, Winston, to a small town in Macon County for his new job as football coach at the high school, which was recently rebuilt after it was burned to the ground as payback for integration.

       Much of the book’s action focuses specifically on the turbulence surrounding the 1964 desegregation of Notasugla High School, a result of civil rights attorney Fred Gray’s 1962 lawsuit, Lee v Macon County Board of Education, which desegregated all public institutions of learning in Alabama by 1972.

       As much a story of growing up as it is an allegory of hatred, forgiveness and rebirth, the book captures what it was like to live through the chaos of the time. The novel is based on actual events that took place in Notasulga, where the author lived and worked for fourteen years as part of her forty-two-year career in education.

     

     

    Troubling the Ashes focuses on the integration of the high schools of Macon County, Alabama. The story is told thought the eyes of the author with thoughts from key persons in state, county and local agencies. It puts the reader into the time frame of 1964 and explains the race relations at the time and the outrageous limits that people went to in order to keep the schools segregated. Troubling the Ashes is a must read for those who want a better understanding of the segregated south. I lived though those times as one of the seniors in the Class of 1964 at Notasulga High School.  – William Wyatt Jr. 

     

  • Reviews

  • TROUBLING THE ASHES was written to expose the intense racism (against blacks) in the south in the wake of the implementation of desegregation of public schools, particularly one public school in Notasulga, AL. But for me — a northerner born and raised and having always lived in the northeast — its impact focused on a different level: how religion is the primary and almost sole way to forms social networks and friendships. I had a sense of this dynamic, but the author really hammers it home in every page of the book. The lesson? If you don't go to church and find like-minded people to befriend, you will be friendless. As a southern-raised friend said to me, "There was nothing else to do there." I asked if it has changed in over 50 years. He speculated about it and replied, "Not much." As a proud atheist, I know that I would be totally alone there. What a contrasting situation from up north where there are so many social venues in which to interact. Aaron is a very good storyteller and amidst this serious book there are flashes of humor. I won't reveal them but will say that they are surprising and very southern. The first half of the book drags somewhat because it is all exposition; the second half picks up pace when characters share viewpoints directly with each other. Clearly only a native Alabamian who was THERE throughout the entire integration process could have written this book — or made it as personal and powerful as the author has. While I don't think the book has been categorized as "young adult" fiction, there the included discussion guide makes it ideal for high schoolers. Amidst these charged racial scenarios in which we live, Troubling the Ashes is a good history lesson for and not just for adults and not just for

    Amazon Customer

  • TROUBLING THE ASHES was written to expose the intense racism (against blacks) in the south in the wake of the implementation of desegregation of public schools, particularly one public school in Notasulga, AL. But for me — a northerner born and raised and having always lived in the northeast — its impact focused on a different level: how religion is the primary and almost sole way to forms social networks and friendships. I had a sense of this dynamic, but the author really hammers it home in every page of the book. The lesson? If you don't go to church and find like-minded people to befriend, you will be friendless. As a southern-raised friend said to me, "There was nothing else to do there." I asked if it has changed in over 50 years. He speculated about it and replied, "Not much." As a proud atheist, I know that I would be totally alone there. What a contrasting situation from up north where there are so many social venues in which to interact. Aaron is a very good storyteller and amidst this serious book there are flashes of humor. I won't reveal them but will say that they are surprising and very southern. The first half of the book drags somewhat because it is all exposition; the second half picks up pace when characters share viewpoints directly with each other. Clearly only a native Alabamian who was THERE throughout the entire integration process could have written this book — or made it as personal and powerful as the author has. While I don't think the book has been categorized as "young adult" fiction, there the included discussion guide makes it ideal for high schoolers. Amidst these charged racial scenarios in which we live, Troubling the Ashes is a good history lesson for and not just for adults and not just for southerners. I wonder how many kids (black kids included) know about the truly horrifying ordeals that black students (basically guinea pigs in a very dangerous experiment) had to undergo. A school was burned to the ground. I don't think that the perp gave a damn whether it had been inhabited or not when he set the fire. That no one was injured or killed was simply fortuitous for the students and administrators.

    Amazon Customer