The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek follows the life of 19-year-old Cussy Mary, the last of her kind, in the hills of Kentucky during the Great Depression. Blue-skinned Cussy endures many hardships in her young life, but her saving grace is being a librarian for the Pack Horse Library Project. Her patrons and the books she can deliver to them mean the world to her. Traveling miles through treacherous terrain is nothing compared to the bigotry and threats her and her family face from the townsfolk. Through it all, Cussy Mary shows us what bravery and determination are. Kim Michele Richardson brings us an unforgettable historical novel full of heart with a gutsy heroine to boot!— Jen Steele
In The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, Richardson’s often lyrical and evocative writing creates a visually stunning and emotionally tumultuous narrative of a young woman seeking to care for those around her in a truly inspiring and empathetic manner. Bluet faces the brutality of those around her and returns only love. This book promises to be significant for book clubs, as it offers much to discuss with respect to prejudice, subjugation of women, the devastating effects of abject poverty, and the salvation which comes from approaching the world with a sensitivity toward finding the commonality in the struggles faced by all of humanity. I am sure this book will make its way onto all of the important lists.— Scott Espinoza
The power of reading between the pages of a book is reflected in this little known story of Roosevelt’s Depression Era Pack Horse Library Project. Nineteen year old Cussy Mary Carter enjoys spending her days delivering not only ‘words’ in books and reading materials to readers in the outlying areas of eastern Kentucky, but also offering her own ‘words’ of comfort and encouragement to people yearning to escape the bleak existence of these remote Appalachian hills and hollows. In spite of being the carrier of a rare genetic trait that causes a bluing of her skin and having to withstand the harsh racial discrimination of being a nonwhite outcast, Cussy takes refuge in her job as a librarian and in her “I have my books” attitude! This well researched historical fiction is so compassionately drawn that every reader’s heart will be touched by the indomitable spirit that fires Cussy’s inner life. Reminiscent of Paulette Jiles News of the World, this is a totally absorbing reading experience. Perfect for book club.— Jane Glaser
Kim Michelle Richardson's novel is steeped in emotion, drama, and imagery. The protagonist, Cussy Mary, is from a family with a rare hereditary gene that gives her blue pigmentation in her skin, making her the ultimate other in an already segregated society. In the Appalachian country of 1930s Kentucky, the reader follows Cussy's life at a moment in time that is fraught with issues of women's rights, civil rights, and human rights in general. Through the power of books, love, and compassion, Cussy Mary stands as a heroine against all that is hateful and oppressive with selfless generosity and a determination to live in peace. At this moment that is captured, Richardson illustrates for readers the beauty and depth of Troublesome Creek from the trees to the fireflies. She affords this detailed imagery and feeling to the development of every character. What the reader is left with are incredibly soulful and complex characters that span the entire spectrum of human emotion. She draws out the best and worst in humanity, resulting in a rich novel of theatrical and poetic making and a heart wrenching story of one woman's resilience. I highly recommend.— Rose Camara
May 2019 Indie Next List
“I loved this wonderful story about Cussy Mary, a pack horse librarian in eastern Kentucky in the 1930s and one of the last of the blue-skinned people of that area. As Cussy faces pressure to marry and difficulties maintaining her arduous book route through twisty and dangerous mountain passes, she earns the respect of the mountain people she serves so faithfully. Beautifully written and heartbreaking at times, this is a story I will never forget.”
— Mary Patterson, The Little Bookshop, Midlothian, VA
"...a hauntingly atmospheric love letter to the first mobile library in Kentucky and the fierce, brave packhorse librarians who wove their way from shack to shack dispensing literacy, hope, and -- just as importantly -- a compassionate human connection."--Sara Gruen, author of Water for Elephants
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. If Cussy wants to bring the joy of books to the hill folks, she's going to have to confront prejudice as old as the Appalachias and suspicion as deep as the holler.
Inspired by the true blue-skinned people of Kentucky and the brave and dedicated Kentucky Pack Horse library service of the 1930s, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is a story of raw courage, fierce strength, and one woman's belief that books can carry us anywhere--even back home.
Additional Praise for The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek:
"A unique story about Appalachia and the healing power of the written word."--Kirkus
"A timeless and significant tale about poverty, intolerance and how books can bring hope and light to even the darkest pocket of history."--Karen Abbott, New York Times bestselling author of Liar Temptress Soldier Spy
"Emotionally resonant and unforgettable, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is a lush love letter to the redemptive power of books."--Joshilyn Jackson, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Almost Sisters