Title: The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek
Author: Kim Michelle Richardson
Review by: Friends of Tualatin Library member Eleanore Mickus
A New York Times Bestseller!
“For me, this book will be unforgettable for a long time. It was so engrossing that I am going to read more books by this author.” –Eleanore
The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is a historical fiction about an unusual group of librarians in the 1930’s who deliver books and other reading materials by horseback to the hill folk of Kentucky. They were part of the Kentucky Pack Horse Library Project implemented by the WPA. The town of Troublesome Creek has Cussy Mary Carter and her mule, Junia, delivering reading materials to people who could not get them any other way.
Our Book Woman, Cussy, known to the locals as Bluet, has a rare genetic disorder unique to the people of her area. The disorder, methemoglobinemia, causes them to have blue colored skin. Because of her blue skin, Cussy experiences much prejudice and discrimination. But, she is so intent on bringing books into the lives of the people, she is willing to put herself in cruel and dangerous situations to deliver them.
We learn of the horrible poverty and hunger that most suffer and as a result another disease I have not heard of in years, pellagra. Cussy’s father, and many of the men around the town of Troublesome Creek, work in the dangerous, dirty coal mines but have no other way to earn a living there. We learn of the union that tried to get better working conditions for these miners and the isolation that families experienced living in the hills.
There were uplifting parts in this story of Cussy’s patrons and their desire to read and share information like recipes and patterns. Cussy would put together a journal with articles from the newspaper and magazines to fill in for the scarcity of donated books. We also learn of a few of the patrons who took steps to advance themselves through study and looking for more work opportunities outside of Troublesome Creek.
The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is available through WCCLS in book, large print, eBook, audiobook, and book club kit formats. We invite you to place a hold.