Tuesday, August 18, 2020

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

Title: The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by 
AuthorKim Michele Richardson
Year Published: 2019

Genre: Adult fiction (historical)
Pages: 320
Rating: 4 out of 5

Location (my 2020 Google Reading map)USA (KT)

FTC Disclosure: I bought this book with my own money

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): The hardscrabble folks of Troublesome Creek have to scrap for everything—everything except books, that is. Thanks to Roosevelt's Kentucky Pack Horse Library Project, Troublesome's got its very own traveling librarian, Cussy Mary Carter.

Cussy's not only a book woman, however, she's also the last of her kind, her skin a shade of blue unlike most anyone else. Not everyone is keen on Cussy's family or the Library Project, and a Blue is often blamed for any whiff of trouble. If Cussy wants to bring the joy of books to the hill folks, she's going to have to confront prejudice as old as the Appalachias and suspicion as deep as the holler.

Inspired by the true blue-skinned people of Kentucky and the brave and dedicated Kentucky Pack Horse library service of the 1930s, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is a story of raw courage, fierce strength, and one woman's belief that books can carry us anywhere—even back home.

Review: It was interesting to read this book after reading The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes, which is said to have borrowed quite a bit from The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek. I wish I had read them the other way around as there are many overlaps between the two books. I really enjoyed The Giver of Stars and, while I found it more difficult to read The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, I think it's really good.

Why was this book more difficult to read? It's got more Kentucky hill dialect and feels more "authentic," while Giver of Stars felt more contemporary fiction. The Pack Horse Librarians were certainly a tough bunch and it's wonderful to read their stories of book and post delivery, reading to those who could not, and inspiring school children. Riding horses, mules, and donkeys into the Kentucky hills could not have been an easy task and they did it in all weather and even when attacked by the locals who were threatened by and resented their presence.

Cussy was a character that I wanted to see succeed; she was dealt such a difficult hand in life: poverty, her blueness, and hatred from many of her neighbors.

I love that there there is a multipage author's note at the end of the novel explaining the real history of the WPA's Pack Horse Librarians, Cussy's blue disease and its history, and the Kentucky miscegenation laws.

Challenges for which this counts: 
This book counts for the Popsugar challenge because it has a book on the cover.

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