Cussy Mary Carter brings joy, wonder, practical skills, and a wider view of the world to the patrons along her book route while facing poverty, domestic violence, and racism. Along the way she reminds the reader of the power and importance of books and words. I loved getting lost in this story which felt like a mix of the homestead life from Little House on the Prairie and the gutsy survival of Educated. It moved me to tears and taught me about life in the hills of Kentucky. Bluet's story will stay with me for a long time.
This has to be one of my favorite books. I love the story, I love the strength that Cussy has and all she overcomes.
I saw this book just after it was released, and recommended it to my book club. Last month it was finally chosen, though it seemed every other book club in the area had made the same decision at the same time. All of the library copies have been checked out for months, so I purchased a new copy and passed it around.
The story grabbed me from the beginning. Growing up in Virginia, I've done a lot of camping and hiking in the Blue Ridge and Appalachian mountains over the years, and I'm always interested in the history of that area. The Kentucky Blues are new to me, as is the Pack-Horse Librarian Project, and I am now inspired to learn more. Thank you for presenting that opportunity.
And the story was great! Cussy Mary lived a hard life, but it paled in comparison to most of her mountain neighbors. She was one of those hidden heroes that brought light into the darkness of others' lives. She provided them with hope and a willingness to push forward, with her spirit, and her books. This is definitely something I will recommend to my friends and community.
Having read a non-fiction book about the pack horse librarians of Kentucky, I couldn't resist picking up a copy of Richardson's The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek. In a very few pages, I found myself lost in the hills and hollows of Depression-Era Kentucky. The author brings this world to dazzling life, and it's almost impossible not to become emotionally involved with Cussy Mary, her family and acquaintances, and her library patrons.
The work of a pack horse librarian was onerous. In this poverty-stricken area, "make do and mend" was the way life was lived. Old license plates were turned into bookends for the shelves that housed the donated books the librarians took out to the people. Cussy Mary's mule, Junia, is her stalwart companion as well as a character in the book, and the descriptions of the librarians' routes in the mountainous terrain make readers wonder how they ever got through regardless the weather.
Richardson has a way with her characters. Storylines involving Vester Frazier, fellow librarian Queenie, and a loner named Jackson didn't go the way I thought they would, and it was nice to be surprised. From our perspective, reading about the prejudice that Cussy Mary has to deal with is uncomfortable, and it made me extremely angry. As I said earlier, it's impossible not to become emotionally involved with these characters-- especially when people who are slowly dying of starvation are so grateful for the books Cussy Mary brings them that they give her food in thanks.
If you're in the mood for a beautifully written and researched piece of historical fiction, I urge you to get a copy of The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek. The story and its characters will stick with you for a long time to come.
Very interesting book that takes place in the 1930's in the Kentucky Appalachians. Growing up in western Virginia, I had heard about the hard trial of the Appalachian people and I had also heard tale about the Kentucky Blue People as well. I never heard about the Pack Horse Library Project though. Throwing all 3 of these things together is quite a feat but the author handles it superbly. I was very immersed in everything our main character, Cussy Mary, went through. Look forward to more books by this author.
I had no knowledge of the rare Blue people of Kentucky nor the historical Pack Horse Library Project. This is the story of 19 year old âBluetâ Cussy Mary and her trials and tribulations of being one of the compassionate Pack Hours librarians, trekking up and down treacherous mountains with her devoted mule. Cussy was the last of the Blue People, rejected and scorned because of her color. She was passionate about bringing books to her impoverished clients and help teach children to read.
This fascinating story had me telling every one who would listen to read this memorable book about the gentle Blue People of Appalachia. I couldn't stop thinking about it.
It was a really good book. Almost couldn't put it down. It was historical and informative, but at the same time, a really absorbing story.
The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson is a story about about prejudice, about being seen as "different," and about acceptance. It is set in the historical context of the blue people of Kentucky and the 1930s Pack Horse Library Project. The themes and the main character resonate, making this a memorable story. The fiction points me in the direction of history I did not know.
Note: If you are a Jojo Moyes fan, compare this book to The Giver of Stars and perhaps look up and read about the controversy.
Read my complete review at http://www.memoriesfrombooks.com/2020/02/the-book-woman-of-troublesome-creek.html
Reviewed for NetGalley.
This was such a good read! The book takes place in Kentucky's Appalacian mountains in 1936 and it absolutely transported me to that place and time. I knew about the poverty of families and the harsh conditions of working the coal mines, but I didn't know about the "Blue people of Kentucky". It has made me think about things we take for granted. These people had so little access to books and reading material was hard to come by. There were children who were starving and had to walk long distances to go to school. Despite all these hardships, there are some sweet and beautiful moments in this book. My heart is more grateful for it.
Historical fiction. I LOVED this book! Set in the early 1930's in the hills of Kentucky - coal mining country. Documents the Packhorse Librarians that served the hard to reach, isolated folk of Kentucky during the Depression. You meet Cussy Mary, a descendant of a French immigrant - a "blue". Cussy is a "blue" as well and lives with her coal miner father scraping out an existence and serving as a Packhorse Librarian to an interesting group of patrons. She, and her "kind" experience discrimination, hunger, abuse. This book brought me to tears at times and warms the heart!!!!
I'm not a straight-up romance reader. I prefer books with a strong plot, deep characters, and a bit of slow-burning romantic chemistry. The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek really met all of those qualifications. I learned so much about my home state of Kentucky while reading this book! First of all, did you know that blue people actually exist? Or that many remote areas did not have access to libraries in the 1930s. There was just so much to learn and love about this book.
Cussy Mary, the main character, is now securely lodged in my heart. She was absolutely preciousâ¦.such a selfless, loving, beautiful woman. The people who supported her were endearing, too. From her papa to her patrons to her friend Queenie, the side characters had so much to offer. I BEG the author to continue this story as a series. I will be the first in line to pre-order!
n the 1930s Roosevelt's Kentucky Pack Horse Library Project brought reading to those who lived in Troublesome Creek who have few resources. The project brought hope, encouragement and fueled dreams. Cussy Mae Carter is one individual who spread reading across the area. And, she reads to those who ask. The people call her The Book Woman.
Many of her patrons do not care that she is a blue woman, one of the few Kentuckians who have a genetic defect that lends a bluish tinge to her skin. Her kindness and care are more important. However, there are those who fear blue people believing that they carry disease and are ignorant. This, then, is Cussie's story. A story of her dedication to reading and spreading that skill. At times she even helps those who want to learn.
The reader experiences the discrimination that blue people endured through Cussy's life. Cussy believes she is the last of the blue line but discovers otherwise when she encounters a couple who birth a blue baby. The condition is called methemoglobinemia and was first found in the United States among those who live in the wilderness of Troublesome Creek. The tale of how it came about here can be found in the author's note. While the condition can be life threatening the type found in the Fugates was congenital. These gentle private poople generally live long lives - into their eighties.
I so enjoyed this read for all the reasons above in addition to the author's comment that this was the most interesting book she had written to date. It is informative, sensitive, emotional, bringing tears to the eyes and pangs to the heart. Read it!