Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Review: The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson

In 1936, tucked deep into the woods of Troublesome Creek, KY, lives blue-skinned 19-year-old Cussy Carter, the last living female of the rare Blue People ancestry. The lonely young Appalachian woman joins the historical Pack Horse Library Project of Kentucky and becomes a librarian, riding across slippery creek beds and up treacherous mountains on her faithful mule 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 damselfly-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, a bookly respite, a fleeting retreat to faraway lands.

 The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is a powerful message about how the written word affects people--a story of hope and heartbreak, raw courage and strength splintered with poverty and oppression, and one woman's chances beyond the darkly hollows. Inspired by the true and historical blue-skinned people of Kentucky and the brave and dedicated Kentucky Pack Horse library service, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek showcases a bold and unique tale of the Pack horse Librarians in literary novels — a story of fierce strength and one woman's belief that books can carry us anywhere — even back home.

 Paperback, 308 pages
Published May 7th 2019
by Sourcebooks Landmark
**** 1/2

My first novel by Kim Michelle Richardson was a revealing discovery in a part of history that is new to me. With a name like Troublesome Creek I honestly thought it was made up but low and behold it is a real place in the state of Kentucky. The year is 1936 and for most of this book, it honestly felt like the 1800s. The atmosphere was primitive and really showed a struggle for survival.

Between the Pack Horse Library Project (thanks to Roosevelt) and people that are actually blue, I was drawn right into this story with its unknown pieces of history. Cussy was a gutsy gal with her determination and drive to deliver books on time and connect with those she came in contact with on her trusty mule, Junia. Yes even Junia was a wonderfully player in this book. She isn’t much welcomed in town because the color blue is still not white, she is still colored and acceptance is impossible.

There are many layers to this slow-paced story and yes sometimes a slow-paced book is a great read. My first time reading Richardson and I loved her style. Her character development was spot on as was the setting. I mean I was nervous as Cussy rode mile after mile alone in the bush which is where Junia the mule shines through.

Her job as a librarian kept her going, her love of books was infectious. To read how the joys of a new book brought such happiness to people in the bleakest of situations confirmed Cussy of the importance of her job. But it was more than a job for Cussy, it was her life and I felt she would have done it whether paid or not, it was the people that kept her going.

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is an emotional story, to know Cussy and see how she was treated was hard to read about. There were other aspects of this book that brought the era to life.

Definitely a book and author I recommend.

This book is part of my 2019 reading off my shelf challenge

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