Cover Image: The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek

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Member Reviews

This was an interesting story. I loved the beginning of the book and the dynamics of Bluet and the other pack horse librarians. It was a lovely glimpse into the great impact that these women had on rural America. The story dragged a bit at times, but then picked up and brought me to tears. We forget at times that others suffered racism and bigotry. I’m thankful fir the author reminding us of this time in history and this group of people.
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This book was amazing. Two years later, I'm still thinking about this book. I read it on the suggestion of a friend - I once lived near this area of Kentucky - and wow... it was a great book. I'm planning to use this book as a cutting for one of my students - I teach competitive speech now. Thank you for the chance to read this book.
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An interesting read with a great cast of characters, and a period/place in history that I didn’t know anything about.  Sad to see the struggles minority groups face seem to have changed so little over time, but so important to face up to these less-than-pleasant parts of history, and the support they offered each other offers hope.
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A compelling read about two little-known subjects: the "blue people" of Kentucky and the packhorse library program of the 1930s. The biggest strengths of the novel are in its handling of the themes of belonging and the power of the written word to change lives, its evocative setting or time and place, and the unflinching look at the hard realities of extreme poverty. I also really enjoyed how the mule, Junia, was as much a character as many of the humans in the story. The weaknesses, for me, were in some of the scenes verging on being just slightly too maudlin, and my chief complaint, that Cussy as a heroine is too saintly to ever be very interesting -- even when she is admonishing herself for being "prideful" in wanting to rid herself of her blue coloring, the reader understands that her desire was not based in vanity but in the simple human need to belong. There is also quite a bit of predictability to this story; from the moment a certain character is introduced, I was certain that he would marry Cussy by the end of the novel, and indeed their entire subplot is a bit romance-novel-ish for my tastes. One final complaint I have is that the characters of Harriet and to a lesser extent, Eula, are rather cartoonish in their villainy and bullying of Cussy.

Overall I would recommend this read for anyone who is interested in the history of the blue people of Kentucky and for book lovers -- the affirmation of the importance of books, especially in the lives of those who have very little, is a theme that can often feel insipid and corny, but here is achieved with authenticity and only a smattering of cheese.
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I love this book! In the 1930's and 40's, the WPA established the Pack Horse Library Project in order to provide books and other reading materials to rural areas. Cussy Mary Carter is one of those librarians. But that's not all. Cussy Mary has an inherited condition called methemoglobinemia, which causes the skin to be blue. It was not until the 1960's that studies were done to determine the cause of the condition. So this book is a tribute not only to the Book Women who rode countless miles to deliver knowledge and pleasure to the mostly poor communities, but also to anyone who rises above persecution. Finally, it is a commentary on the very hard lives of coal miners in 1930's Kentucky. One can't help but admire Cussy and cry with her over the injustices of a forced marriage, starvation, and prejudice, as well as share her pride and fulfillment in bringing books to people who wouldn't have otherwise had them. This is a great book for anyone who loves books and loves history.
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Well written and very engaging! And I learned so much about the blue people of Kentucky (only knew about them through biology/genetics class) and what women librarians went through at the time in order to bring books to the people of the Appalachias!
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I received an arc of this title from NetGalley for an honest review. I wanted to love this book so much, and it is very popular and rarely on the shelf, but it reminded me so much of another book that I had read earlier in the year that I could not get through this one. They were just too similar.
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I know I was in the minority on this but I didn't love The Book Woman. I liked the story and found it inspiring but I had issues with the dialect. It didn't feel authentic to me. It was well researched and a well told story but I honestly liked Jojo Moyes' The Giver of Stars better.
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A wonderful story of depression era life in the Appalachian mountains.  A young woman finds her own way as a book carrier for a WPA role. Coming from "blue" lineage, she is often mistreated and marries an abusive man. Part history lesson, part love story, this is a great read.
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A great story of the Appalachian people and the Blue people. And of course it is a story about the joys of bringing a book to a person.
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I loved this book! So descriptive and interesting. Pointing out the strength of our mountain people during the depression and after. The bravery of one woman and the cruelty of those with prejudice against color. Deep down, the love of the community shone through.

Originally posted on The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek. Thank you Net Galley for the ARC.
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Some of my family is from the hills and hollers of Kentucky, so I found the location of this book to remind me of the stories that have been shared with me of the time spent here by my family. I loved the main character of Cussy and enjoyed it as her character developed and my heart broke with her as the deaths, poverty, and racism during the time were such a challenge.
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I really enjoyed this book. I had no idea of either the Blue People of Kentucky or the traveling librarians, so I found it a really interesting read.

One flaw seemed to be that the characters were either really good or really bad. There was not much in terms of character development, with the exception of the doctor. He went from appearing to only have his own interests at heart to ending up really caring for Cussy.
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3.5 stars rounded up to 4. 

My favourite aspects of the book were the mule called Junia (I’m a sucker for an animal character!), the librarian/literacy/booklove sections, learning about methemoglobinemia (a tongue-twister in a single word!) and how that genetic condition showed up in a region of Appalachia and the stigma attached to it. 

This might be a good book club book.
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This will be one of my top ten books read in 2020--I've been slow in finishing this one because I love these characters so much. The audio is spectacular but I finished the last bit on my kindle.

I'm so thankful this book taught me about the blue-skinned people of Kentucky and about the Pack Horse Librarian project, running from 1935 to 1943. How amazing that these women brought books to some of the poorest areas in Appalachia, to the valuable and gracious people who deserved stories just as much as anyone else!

Warning: This book may make you cry at the cruelty that people can show towards those who don't look like them. The way that plays out in this story is almost unthinkable--how can human beings treat others in such horrendous ways? I felt like I was going to have a heart attack at the end of the book. Cussy Mary and Jackson are my favorite--I just love them! This will be on my definite list of re-reads. Absolutely wonderful--but like all true history, difficult at times too.
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What an amazing story! I originally gave it 4 stars, but now it’s over a month later, and I had to change it to 5 because I am still thinking about it.

Cussy is a young woman who lives in the hills of Kentucky and works as a pack horse librarian, delivering books and reading materials to the other poor folks in her area. Despite her good work, people are wary of her – she’s a “blue,” and the last of her kind. Her skin is tinted blue due to a rare disorder, and she and her father live as pariahs because people don’t understand it.

Though this book is fiction, the historical elements are based in fact. There really were blue people of Kentucky, and in the 1930s, The Pack Horse Library Project worked hard to deliver books to people in the remote regions of the Appalachian Mountains. This book was incredibly researched and detailed. I learned SO much, and didn’t even know Blues or these librarians existed, yet every time I opened the book, I was instantly transported.

Cussy lived a very hard life and battled prejudice and fear at every turn. Her role as a beloved “book woman” was the only thing that brought her joy and meaning. I was rooting for her through all of her battles, and grew to love her more and more as the book went on.

I highly recommend this title. Cussy was an exceptional character, and this story is one I will not soon forget.
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I had trouble downloading this due to my kindle email address because it changed without my consent and some of the books didn’t make it onto my kindle.
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Cussy led a rather lonely life before she started working for the Pack Horse Library. One of the only two known remaining Blue People of Appalachia, she grew up with others fearing her blue skin compounded by discrimination against her family. One of the few blessings in Cussy's life is her ability to read and her loving father. Unfortunately, that same loving father has the notion that he must marry her off as soon as possible in order to ensure she is taken care of after he is gone. Marriage would mean the end of her beloved job. 
Richardson has woven a deep tapestry of historical fiction. She gives the readers a peek into the world of Great Depression Appalachia and created an interesting protagonist. The Blue People have fascinated folks for generations. This story furnishes you with how it could possibly have been to be a Blue Person when the condition was surrounded by fear and superstition without any scientific explanation. This book was enjoyable from start to finish.
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In the end I really enjoyed The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek. It was kinda hard to get into because it was almost half way in and people were still getting introduced. After that the story was so good and the introductions were totally worth it.
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The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is a great choice for readers that enjoy historical fiction.  It opened my eyes to both the blue skinned people of Kentucky, and the Kentucky Pack Horse Librarian project.  I loved the character of Cussie - and was so glad she found a somewhat happy ending.  The persecution of the blue skinned people and other minorities in the small town of Troublesome Creek was troubling, but makes you realize the roots of racism in this country.  I enjoyed hearing about the local traditions of "the courting candle" "Pie day" and how important the 4th of July was to the folks of the town.  The author has many great resources about the book on her website for those that would like to use it for a book discussion.
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