BOOK REVIEW: The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson

Title: The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek

Author: Kim Michele Richardson

Audiobook Length: 9 hours and 26 minutes

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Genre: Fiction, Historical Fiction

Read Start Date: September 13, 2022

Read Finish Date: September 23, 2022

Brief Summary of the Plot from Goodreads: In 1936, tucked deep into the woods of Troublesome Creek, KY, lives blue-skinned 19-year-old Cussy Carter, the last living female of the rare Blue People ancestry.

The lonely young Appalachian woman joins the historical Pack Horse Library Project of Kentucky and becomes a librarian, riding across slippery creek beds and up treacherous mountains on her faithful mule to deliver books and other reading material to the impoverished hill people of Eastern Kentucky.

Along her dangerous route, Cussy, known to the mountain folk as Bluet, confronts those suspicious of her damselfly-blue skin and the government’s new book program. She befriends hardscrabble and complex fellow Kentuckians, and is fiercely determined to bring comfort and joy, instill literacy, and give to those who have nothing, a bookly respite, a fleeting retreat to faraway lands.

My Review: Kindred Spirits summarizes it pretty well in her blog: “Cussie Mary is never more satisfied than when she is able to carry a new bit of reading material to a beloved patron, whether it be a young, aspiring forester or an elderly, near-blind seamstress. She loves her mission as “Book Woman”, working as a Pack Horse Librarian here in Kentucky, and does not wish for any other role in what others might perceive as a lonely life. Pa, though, has a different idea. He seems hell-bent on finding her a husband, and continues to light the courting candle, much to her dismay. What ensues opens up her very narrow world to unimaginable possibilities, both dangerous and hopeful.”

Cussy “Bluet” Carter has blue skin, which makes her an outcast in the rural community of Troublesome Creek, Kentucky. She is ostracized by most of the community (except her book patrons) for fear that her disease is catching. This makes it difficult for her father to find her a husband, and he eventually chooses an unsavory character, who dies shortly after their wedding. Suspecting foul play, his relative harasses Cussy Mary through out the book, which lends some of the only high tension to the story.

When I first started reading this book, I thought that this was an alternate reality where blue was a code for African American. It wasn’t until I researched the blue people of Kentucky, that I realized that there was an actual family of people with blue skin — well, in actuality it wasn’t blue skin but rather a genetic blood disorder which turned the blood a brown color which in turn gave the skin a blue hue. With the administration of medicine, the blood went back to its normal color, and so did the skin.

It took me 10 days to get through as many hours, which is not common for me. While interesting, I thought this book was really slow, and not much really happened. I rented this audiobook from the library as it was under the heading “popular global”. I had never heard of it before and didn’t check the synopsis before reading. This can be a hit or miss approach — The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek a bit more miss than hit, but still worth the read if you have the time.

In researching what other bloggers felt about this book, I came across a really great blog post from Leaving LanguishLand that I would suggest you check out. I included the link in the name of the blog.

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