Monday, January 13, 2020

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson

Cussy Mary Carter is, according to her father, the last of her kind. A blue, like her mother and her father before her. 

It's 1936 and the country is in the midst of the Depression. Rural Kentucky has been hit particularly hard, but Cussy Mary, nicknamed by locals "Bluet," is hired on with the Pack Horse Library Project, delivering reading materials to her rural neighbors. Her route is one she takes pride in and her patrons are beloved to her. But the locals aren't all trusting of the "colored" woman or the government she works for. In spite of this, Bluet is determined to bring help and comfort to her neighbors and the best comfort she knows is that of books. 

This book tore me to shreds before it ended. I mean, just shreds!

Cussy Mary is a wonderful heroine! She's charming and smart and incredibly giving and caring. She lives alone with her widowed father, working to help bring in money for necessities. Cussy Mary's father is a miner, already sick from years mining coal and heavily involved in union talks. All of that, plus the fact that their family is "colored." Blue, specifically. And at a time when anything atypical is looked upon with suspicion and even superstition, blue skin is an affliction some believe can be catching.

In spite of her treatment by many people in the area, Cussy Mary is, for many, a shining light. She delivers books, newspapers, recipes and sewing patterns to people who live in the most remote regions of Kentucky. She reads to them, she spends time with them, and she tries as hard as she can to get them materials that will help them during a time that is so desperately trying for so many.

While this book left me bawling like a baby by the end, I still absolutely adored it! It's one of two releases of 2019 about the Pack Horse Library Project, which was one of Roosevelt's Works Project Administration (WPA) programs designed to provide jobs during the Depression.

As if that history note wasn't charmingly intriguing enough (I knew absolutely nothing about the Pack Horse Librarians), Kim Michele Richardson's heroine is blue. Literally blue. Which is another fascinating historical note from Kentucky. Richardson includes a wonderful author's note about the very real inspiration behind Cussy Mary's blue skin that should absolutely not be skipped in the reading.

This is my first read by Richardson but I'm already adding her backlist to my must reads. I highly, highly recommend this one!


Kay said...

I have been hearing great things about this book and what a curious thing to be 'blue'. It's on my list to read. Happy New Year to your and your family, Becky!

shelleyrae @ book'd out said...

I must read this soon, thanks for sharing your thoughts

Jan M. Flynn said...

I've heard great things about this book, but until now not a peep about its MC being, literally. blue. Seems an odd omission!

Dianna said...

This was at the top of my 2019 favorites list!