From the publisher:
An Oprah’s Buzziest Books Pick for May
Indie Next Pick
Southern Independent Book Alliance SIBA Spring OKRA PICK
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.
Another recommendation from LibraryReads and a really good one. A friend who had read it warned me that it is a very sad book, and it is, but I am also very glad I read it.
There are some really popular memoirs from people who grew up in severe poverty, but in more modern times (Educated, Hillbilly Elegy, The Glass Castle, All Over But the Shoutin’) but this novel is set during the depression, and makes all those stories look like good times. So yes, it is a very sad book but I also learned a lot.
I had never heard of blue people before but it is a real thing. Their skin is literally blue in color, and in Appalachia, they are considered “colored” as in signs reading “no coloreds” on the bathroom door. Cussy is a really strong woman, and a smart one despite no formal education. She lost her mama when she was young and her father is bound and determined to get her married. That doesn’t work out all that well, to say the least, and Cussy gets to be a Book Woman.
I am pretty familiar with President Roosevelt and the Works Progress Administration. (The Broward County Library has an amazing collection of books that were commissioned as a WPA project called the “Federal Writers Project” at the Main Library in Fort Lauderdale.) But I had never heard of the Kentucky Pack Horse library service and it was truly remarkable.
So despite the sadness, the extreme poverty, illness, starvation, prejudice, and mostly ignorance, this was a wonderful read. I don’t think I will be forgetting Cussy and her story any time soon. I read a light, funny romance before reading this, and another after which helped me get through it. All that said, I highly recommend it, especially for book groups.
5/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™
THE BOOK WOMAN OF TROUBLESOME CREEK by Kim Michele Richardson. Sarah Crichton Books (April 16, 2019). ISBN 978-0374156022. 368p.