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The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek

by Kim Michele Richardson

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,4551319,774 (4.05)159
"Cussy Mary Carter is the last of her kind, her skin the color of a blue damselfly in these dusty hills. But that doesn't mean she's got nothing to offer. As a member of the Pack Horse Library Project, Cussy delivers books to the hill folk of Troublesome, hoping to spread learning in these desperate times. But not everyone is so keen on Cussy's family or the Library Project, and the hardscrabble Kentuckians are quick to blame a Blue for any trouble in their small town. The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is a story of raw courage, fierce strength, and one woman's determination to bring a little bit of hope to the darkly hollers"--… (more)
  1. 30
    Christy by Catherine Marshall (cbl_tn)
    cbl_tn: Both books are about young women in the early 20th century trying to educate Appalachians and break the cycle of poverty.
  2. 10
    The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes (out-and-about)
    out-and-about: Same time frame and setting, about the PackHorse library in KY.
  3. 00
    Big Stone Gap by Adriana Trigiani (dara85)
    dara85: Takes place in the past in Appalachia. Main character's friend and matchmaker drives a book mobile.
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» See also 159 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 130 (next | show all)
This combined story of the Kentucky Pack Horse Library and the blue-skinned people of Kentucky in the format of a novel. Both actually existed, but author Kim Richardson chose to create the character Cussy Mary Carter to tell the fictionalized story. I found both fascinating. Had I not done some limited research on the blue people, I would never have believed that they actually existed. Being a book person and a former small town library board member, I was drawn to the story of the pack horse library system during WPA in the 1930s. It was essentially the book mobile of the ‘30s and was responsible for increasing literacy in the farthest corners of Appalachia. There is a strong lesson to be learned too from the treatment of Cussy, herself a member of the blue community, a lesson that speaks to the issues of race in society today. And if you have read the negative reviews on Amazon, few as they are, you can ignore them. They almost all rail against the racial themes in the book primarily because those writing the negative reviews are most likely among the worst offenders. Guilt does strange things to people. ( )
  DanDiercks | Nov 26, 2021 |
Jojo Moyes created controversy (and allegations of plagiarism) with her novel, The Giver of Stas about the packhorse librarians in Kentucky during the Great Depression. This is the original book. I’m not sure about the allegations of plagiarism, but this is a much better written book with a more compelling storyline. It’s too bad that this book got buried under Moyes’ publicity machine because it deserves to be read. ( )
  etxgardener | Nov 10, 2021 |
This is a historical fiction that was set in the Great Depression that incorporating the Kentucky Pack Horse Library Project which brought books to the isolated and poor of Kentucky. People were cut off from newspapers, magazines and books. People were starved for books and news

The other main thread of this were the blue people of Kentucky, they carried a genetic trait that made their blood look brown and their skin blue. in this book, they were called bluets. Their disorder was methemoglobinemia and was treated in this story and real life with methylene blue, which countered the blue color but had uncomfortable side effects. I am interested in this because of a strange experience that I have had in the past. I have anemia which becomes severe on and off. For this, I take iron infusions, and one day, one of my veins blew very badly and I had a green arm for two years!

Cussy Mary Carter in the book was a traveling librarian, and she was a bluet. Her father wanted her to be married off and arranged courting session with different candidates. Finally, after many courtships, a marriage took place. On the wedding night, the groom beat her and raped her. Then he died of a heart attack. Poor Cussy, was followed and chased many times by the groom's brother.

Cussy loved her librarian job and found escape through books, but a few of the people on her route did not treat her kindly, and she thought is would always be her lot to hide from them and try to be safe. Thank goodness for the groom's mule, who bonded with her and protected her. Poverty and suffering were not only her lot.

I thought it was a deeply moving book, and I learned a lot about the hardship and the beauty of living in Kentucky during the Depression. Other people took this book to plodding, but it was not that way for me. ( )
  Carolee888 | Oct 19, 2021 |
The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is the fictional tale of Cussy Mary Carter who joins the Pack Horse Librarians which was part of the WPA project with the goal of engaging or starting people reading in rural Kentucky. Many in the community were skeptical of these outsiders but in addition Cussy had more difficulties in acceptance because she was one of the Blue People, a group of people with a genetic disorder that causes their skin to turn blue at times but many residents felt she an Black and these people were definitely not accepted. An engaging historical fiction though a little slow in the very beginning. The reader will learn a lot about the Packhorse Librarians and how the helped their community both in developing the pleasure of reading but helping in so many other ways. ( )
  Carrieida | Oct 16, 2021 |
So I read this book in part because of the plagiarism controversy with this work and another by Jojo Moyes. While I will admit that both are set in the same place/time with a focus on the pack libraries and the women who rode for them, the plots are fairly different. I will admit that I greatly preferred the Moyes work. While this one has an interesting main character (she has the recessive gene that causes blue skin) it ultimately felt very flat in terms of characterization (the good guys are very good, and the bad guys are very bad). Ultimately the only 'ambiguity' in the plot or characters was the doctor who wanted to experiment on Cussy and helped her to further that end. ( )
  Jthierer | Aug 17, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 130 (next | show all)
Richardson has penned an emotionally moving and fascinating story about the power of literacy over bigotry, hatred and fear.
 
Richardson, a master of phrase, cadence, and imagery, once again delivers a powerful yet heartfelt story that gives readers a privileged glimpse into an impoverished yet rigidly hierarchical society, this time by shining a light on the courageous, dedicated women who brought books and hope to those struggling to survive on its lowest rung. Strongly recommended.
 
Kim Michele Richardson’s presentation of her protagonist’s challenges and perseverance within a culture hostile to deviation from norms is a significant accomplishment. Equally valuable is her reminder of the priceless necessity, the enduring thrill, of books and reading.
 
Cussy's first-person narrative voice is engaging, laced with a thick Kentucky accent and colloquialisms of Depression-era Appalachia. Through the bigotry and discrimination Cussy suffers as a result of her skin color, the author artfully depicts the insidious behavior that can result when a society’s members feel threatened by things they don't understand. With a focus on the personal joy and broadened horizons that can result from access to reading material, this well-researched tale serves as a solid history lesson on 1930s Kentucky. A unique story about Appalachia and the healing power of the written word.
added by Lemeritus | editKirkus Reviews (Feb 28, 2019)
 
This gem of a historical from Richardson (The Sisters of Glass Ferry) features an indomitable heroine navigating a community steeped in racial intolerance.... Though the ending is abrupt and some historical information feels clumsily inserted, readers will adore the memorable Cussy and appreciate Richardson’s fine rendering of rural Kentucky life.
added by Lemeritus | editPublishers Weekly (Feb 21, 2019)
 

» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Richardson, Kim Micheleprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Lin, ChristopherCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schorr, KatieNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
The very existence of libraries affords the best evidence that we may yet have hope for the future of man. - T. S. Eliot
Dedication
For Stacy Testa, a dear Book Woman
First words
Kentucky, 1936
The librarian and her mule spotted it at the same time.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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"Cussy Mary Carter is the last of her kind, her skin the color of a blue damselfly in these dusty hills. But that doesn't mean she's got nothing to offer. As a member of the Pack Horse Library Project, Cussy delivers books to the hill folk of Troublesome, hoping to spread learning in these desperate times. But not everyone is so keen on Cussy's family or the Library Project, and the hardscrabble Kentuckians are quick to blame a Blue for any trouble in their small town. The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is a story of raw courage, fierce strength, and one woman's determination to bring a little bit of hope to the darkly hollers"--

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Average: (4.05)
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