An enlightening and fascinating historical fiction novel that was impossible to put down and will be a hard book to forget.
THE BOOK WOMAN OF TROUBLESOME CREEK is about the WPA Pack Horse Library Project of 1935 and the factual Blue-skin People of Eastern Kentucky. It’s a tribute to the librarians who traveled on horseback and mule to provide books to the poor and isolated communities in Kentucky.
Cussy Mary Carter is the last living female of the rare Blue People ancestry. She becomes a librarian at nineteen, riding across creek beds and up treacherous mountains on her faithful mule, Junia, to deliver books and other reading material to the impoverished hill people of Eastern Kentucky.
Along her dangerous route, Cussy, known to the mountain folk as Bluet, confronts those suspicious of her blue skin and the government's new book program. She befriends hardscrabble and complex fellow Kentuckians, and is fiercely determined to bring comfort and joy, instill literacy, and give to those who have nothing.
“Our Bluet is a librarian for the Pack Horse project. A smart book woman for our little town.” His voice was proud like, like a papa bragging on his child.”
This is a unique, fascinating and enlightening story about the Kentucky Blue People and Pack Horse Librarians. I was not familiar with either of these topics when I selected the book, but a book about books is bound to be good. But it wasn’t just good it was great. This is one of those great moments that a book totally took me by surprise.
It’s a tale of one woman’s fierce strength and her belief that books can help ease burdens, escape misery, and grow minds. Cussy’s character was so well-developed you can’t help but feel her shame, her anger, her compassion and her strength. My favorite part was Cussy’s tremendous dedication to help her book patrons in any way she could. The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek was impossible to put down and will be a hard book to forget.
Kim Michele Richardson's writing is touching and she provides an authentic Appalachian voice. She was born in Kentucky and resides part-time in Western North Carolina. She is an advocate for the prevention of child abuse and domestic violence, partnering with the U. S. Navy globally to bring awareness and education to the prevention of domestic violence. Her works includes Liar's Bench (2015), GodPretty in the Tobacco Field (2016) and The Sisters of Glass Ferry (2017). The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is her fourth novel.
Thanks to Netgalley, Kim Michelle Richardson and SourceBooks Landmark for an advance reading copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
““Listen Bluet, we may be able to cure you, make you white. Wouldn’t you like that?" He asked gently and pulled the motor car onto the side of the road. Maybe there weren’t anything a Blue should like better than becoming normal like that, but the pain and the fear left me shaken and crowded out those possibilities.”
Publisher Sourcebooks Landmark
Published May 7, 2019