Cover Image: The Librarian of Boone's Hollow

The Librarian of Boone's Hollow

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Another title in the WPA librarian program that focuses on efforts to bring books to rural mountain people. This story doesn't quite deliver as well as others but is a quick read.
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Kim Vogel Sawyer has reached back in time and brought the WPA packhorse librarians to life in this novel of historical fiction. She both honors the hardworking men and women whose jobs were delivering a glimpse of the outside world by way of books and magazines to some of the most remote corners Appalachian mountains and the hardscrabble people who call the region home. While life is not easy on either side, Sawyer's characters are strong in faith and substance. Add in a sprinkling of romance, and this book is a winner. For fans of Kim Michelle RIchardson's "Book Woman of Troublesome Creek" or "Shiner" by Amy Jo Burns.
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Addie Cowherd is at the end of her third year at the University of  Kentucky  when she is summoned to the Dean's  office, where she finds out that her tuition has not been paid, and she is  being  summarily  dismissed from the University.   She is offered a place to live by a librarian that she has worked with in the past.  This  leads to employment as a delivery lady at a tiny library in Boones Hollow, KY.   She rides a mule delivering books and magazines to the people  living in the rugged mountains. 

Emmett Tharp is a graduate of the  University of  Kentucky.   He and Addie had met briefly on campus the last night of Addie's stay there.  He cannot find a job, so goes home to Boones  Hollow.  Through twists, he gets the job of Librarian of Boones  Hollow, working closely with Addie. 

This is a sweet Christian  romance, and I  enjoyed it very much.  The only comment  I  would  make against it was that the romance and side stories in the book were wrapped up  lickity-split in the last couple of  chapters.   It felt a little bit  like the author had run out of story and wanted to be done.  That said, I  still enjoyed the book very much.  In todays  meet- fall in bed- then get to know each other romances this was a breath of fresh air.  Interesting book with characters  that interested me.  Many thanks for the opportunity to  read this book.
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I loved learning about the Works Progress Administration and how they instituted delivering books to the people in mountainous or rural areas who didn't have access to them. More importantly though I was truly impacted by the characters, each one struggling with their own issues in this Great Depression era. 

Addie who had every right to be angry with her circumstances shows such grace, love, and fortitude. Nanny Fay who definitely has a right to be bitter is a true reflection of what the Lord calls us to be in the face of adverse circumstances. Emmett who has done all he can to rise above his circumstances seems destined to end up where he started. And Bettina drove me crazy, but she struggles with a mean father who she can never please. Each of their lives intersect in a dynamic way that will never leave any of them the same. This story was woven beautifully as a tailor weaves a tapestry. While I felt the story slowed a bit in the middle, I found myself so glad I stayed until the end. Definitely on the recommended-to-read list!

I voluntarily received a complimentary copy from NetGalley and Waterbrook/Multnomah. All opinions and thoughts are my own.
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On Amazon
Reviewed in the United States on October 20, 2020
This story drew me in from the beginning! Wish it didn't end!
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I liked this story. It is a clean slow paced romance anI think it represented the time period well. It gave a cameo of how people thought about coal mine jobs an had examples of costs of items.
It glossed over the horseback riding an the terrain an roads of the day.
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I have enjoyed every book I have ready by this author and this one didn’t disappoint either.  Thanks to netgalley and the publisher for an advanced copy.
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Filled with vivid descriptions of Boone’s Hollow, this is a book you will want to climb inside and stay as long as possible.  
Many thanks to WaterBrook and Multnomah and to NetGalley for providing me with a galley in exchange for my honest opinion.
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The Librarian of Boon Hollow 
3.5 stars
By Kim Vogel Sawyer 

I've enjoyed this authors gentle stories with relatable, sweet characters. In depression era Kentucky, Addie and Emmett briefly meet at university and then go thier separate ways, only to end up in Boon Hollow together. Both work together to bring books and literature to the back water people of Boon Hollow. A lot of this book reminds me of the novel, Christy. Where an "outsider" comes into the area to help but has resistance from suspicious neighbors. I enjoyed the Christian content. Faith in adversity. Forgiveness and acceptance. I could have done without out Bettina. She was a annoying character but she has a good story arc.

I received a complimentary copy through Netgalley and all opinions are my own.
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The Librarian of Boone's Hollow is set in the Great Depression in the mountains of Kentucky in a mining town. Addie Cowherd falls on financial hard times and takes a job delivering books on horseback, but the townspeople are reluctant to accept her. Emmett Tharp returns home after college but struggles to find a job that recognizes the value of his education in this mining town. The circumstances bring Addie and Emmett together, and a romance develops between them. Can they find happinesss? Kim Vogel Sawyer has created a cozy read for the fans of historical fiction.
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Based on a fascinating aspect of U.S. history, The Librarian of Boone Hollow is one of several books written recently about the WPA program known as the Pack Horse Librarians.   Sawyer’s style is heartfelt and she writes  from the perspective of the genre of Christian historical fiction.  The story is told primarily through the eyes of Addie and Emmet – both college graduates which makes them somewhat unique in their communities and times.  

Although I personally preferred Richardson’s the Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, readers of Christion fiction will enjoy this version.

FYI - I received a copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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This is not my first exposure to this author. I had read one other book by her and really enjoyed it. 

I have to say I loved this book so much. It is a historical Christian fiction that takes place in a small mountain town. Addie is learning to love the people of this town and teach them the principles of love your neighbor. Many things happen and I just have to say I love the way it was wrapped up in the end. I would love to see this become a series to find out more about these characters. 

Thank you so much to the publisher and netgalley for an advanced copy of this book!
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The Librarian of Boone's Hollow by Kim Vogel Sawyer was the perfect book to read while on vacation in the Blue Ridge Mountains. In a time of depression and financial hardship, Addie Cowherd was living a college girls dream and working her journey to becoming a novelist. Until the day she was told her college tuition was not being payed, Addie didn't realize the depression had hit her family or that her father had lost his job. Addie had no choice but to leave school and search for money of her own. Through connections in the library web Addie was able to take on a traveling librarian job through the WAP. While it sounded like a perfect set up of being able to stay in the world of books while earn a living, the job took Addie into the mining hills of Kentucky where the people were hesitant of newcomers and didn't exactly roll out the carpet for her. Luckily for Addie there were some welcoming people that taught her the ropes and the value of friendship while Addie taught the town a thing or two about hospitality and perseverance. 

I am a lover a books and words so this story spoke right to that area of my heart. I loved the struggles the characters went through to get books in their hands and to share those books with others. I loved the character relationships that brought the worlds of college life and mining town together and the gift of letting those not like you into your world and how much can be learned from that. At one point when the townspeople almost break Addie, her mother reminds her that her traveling library job is more than a job, it's a ministry, I loved that! 

The book is written so that each chapter skips around from character to character allowing for different points of view as well as different voices. Sometimes this can cause confusion but Kim Sawyer did an amazing job of keeping the story in line while adding these dynamics. 

I would recommend this to anyone that enjoys historical fiction or christian romance. I would say this is well suite for young adults and adults. I give it 4 stars. 
Thank you Netgalley and WaterBrook & Multnomah for the opportunity to read an advanced copy in return for my honest opinion.
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Two successful college students find that life isn't so easy and find that they have to rely on more than their educations.  One travels home to Boone's Hollow and the other ends up in Boone's Hollow following work.  As fate would have it they find each other and try as they might to stay away from each other because it was the professional thing to do - their love of the small town library and making it successful keeps pulling them together.  Saving one of their co-workers pulls them even closer.  God's grace is demonstrated time and again in this lovely story of loss, forgiveness and redemption.  An enjoyable read that you won't want to put down.  Characters that you will want to be friends with at the end of the book.
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The Librarian of Boone's Hollow by Kim Vogel Sawyer is a lightweight entry into the subject area of fictional packhorse librarians. With Kim Michele Richardson and Jojo Moyes duking it out for the best of the genre in 2019, Sawyer journeys into the mining towns of Kentucky for her entry.

Set during the Great Depression, the protagonist, Adelaide Cowherd, is just about finished with her college year only to be told she is expelled because her parents have failed to pay the college. A part-time worker at the Lexington Library, she learns of a job on horseback delivering books.  

Boone’s Hollow folk are suspicious of strangers and have their prejudices and superstitions causing them to reject Addie as a packhorse librarian. She does have one friend in town whom she met in college, Emmett Tharp. With a degree in business, he has not been able to find a job now that he has graduated until the director of the Boone’s Hollow Packhorse Library must leave the area due to her asthma. 

A love triangle soon emerges as an illiterate town girl wants to put her hooks into Tharp while he prefers college-educated Addie, who longs to be a writer with her own books on library shelves. Before long, someone has menaced with the library program and has stolen Addie’s documents.

Kim Vogel Sawyer released her first book in 2006, Waiting for Summer's Return. A former teacher, Sawyer now writes full time and has a speaking ministry.

My review will be posted on Goodreads starting October 15, 2020. 

I would like to thank WaterBrook, an imprint of Random House, and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC in return for an objective review.
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Unfortunately this book didn't show up on my kindle even though it's on my list and shelf, so I'm obligated to provide a review and a rating even though I can't figure out how to get the book. I wish there was a way to alert netGalley when this happens. Sorry.
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1936. The Great Depression.
Addie Cowherd is a college student getting ready for final exams. She is summoned to the school office and is subsequently expelled for lack of funds. Addie is shocked her parents have not paid tuition. She returns home to find out her father lost his job and their home. Addie’s life has abruptly changed.
Addie takes a job with the WPA program delivering library books to the rural people of Boone’s Hollow, Kentucky.
Emmett Tharp has just graduated from college. He returns home to Boone’s Hollow and is unable to find a job with his degree. He first works in a coal mine. He then is able to work for the WPA program as a librarian.

My Thoughts:
It isn’t that I don’t like this story. I do. But not enough to give it a good rating.

I’ve written this statement before and I probably will again. Sometimes secondary characters are more interesting to me than the main characters. I want to know more about the secondary character. I want that person to be further developed. To be fleshed out and breathing. The secondary character in this story is a young woman named Bettina Webber. Bettina was born and raised in this hollow. She has her “cap” set on marrying Emmett. Her mother died. She doesn’t have siblings. She has an abusive father. She is lucky to have a good job as a rider on horseback delivering library books to her people. Now, my question is does Bettina want to marry Emmett because she feels he is her savior from her “world?” Possibly. He is a person who is safe and secure. Does the idea of marrying Emmett give her hope? Does the idea of marrying Emmett give her mind somewhere to go besides the stark reality of her own life? All these are interesting questions for further development.
Bettina is the person who is in trouble. She is the person who desperately needs help. She is the person who is in a dire situation.
Whereas, Addie Cowherd has a college background. She has supportive parents. She has experience working in a library. She has the promise of life beyond the hollow and Kentucky.
While reading the story I felt an investment in Bettina and not so much Addie.
Emmett seems more like a bookend to hold up a part of the story. To me he is expendable.
One of the things I love about this story is the environment of the hollow. I love the descriptions of the land and the town. I love the culture of the people. I love the added background story of Nanny Fay. The people don’t understand her. When people don’t understand something or someone they can turn it into fear. This too is an idea to be explored in-depth.

The Librarian of Boone’s Hollow is Christian fiction. Some of the themes are faith and trust in God, being kind to people who are not kind, bravery, courage, and perseverance.

Source: I received a complimentary eBook NetGalley copy, I was not required to write a positive review.
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There are some authors you know you can always turn to for a good, comforting read. They write classics that just make you feel good. Kim Vogel Sawyer is one of my favorite authors for that kind of book, and her new book The Librarian of Boone Hollow falls right in place in her lineup of great novels.

I once hear Kim’s stories referred to as “gentle,” and that’s how I’ll always think of them. When I started reading The Librarian of Boone Hollow I had just finished reading a thriller that left me with goosebumps. So I needed something to kind of bring me down.

This post contains affiliate links. As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying links. I received a copy of this book through NetGalley.

Addie Cowherd lost her place at university when her father lost his job during the Great Depression. She can’t go home to her parents because they had to sell their home.

Her only choice is find a job. It seems like an answer to prayer when she’s offered a position delivering books on horseback to residents in the hills of Kentucky. Addie has no idea just how challenging the job will be.

Emmett Tharp left Boone’s Hollow and attended university on a scholarship. But after exhausting every avenue in his search for a job, he has returned to Boone’s Hollow.

Addie and Emmett are brought together over their love of books, and their desire to bring literacy to the mountain people.

But not everyone is happy with their endeavors. Superstitions and feuds are still real. Addie determines not to let the people scare her away.

She just find her place in this new world and maybe a future, too.

Kim Vogel Sawyer has a special gift for writing. I absolutely adore her stories. Everything she writes is worth reading.

I loved The Librarian of Boone’s Hollow for so many reasons. First, the characters are so well-written.

Kim always writes characters that are real. I definitely appreciated when Emmett learned just how difficult coal mining is.

cover of The Librarian of Boone's Hollow
Emmett’s mother was a favorite character, as was Griselda Ann. Yep, that’s her name. I love all the attention given to side characters.

The setting of Boone’s Hollow is another favorite. As a mountain girl, I love a mountain community.

I loved Addie’s character, and it was fun to watch her go into the community of Boone’s Hollow having no idea what she was up against. I loved her fighting spirit, and how she never gave up.

Emmett was a great character, too. I admired his tenacity in searching for a job, and his willingness to work even if it wasn’t exactly what he wanted.

The message in The Librarian of Boone’s Hollow is such a sweet one, and something I think we can all relate to. It’s a message of finding your place in the world. Even if it isn’t the place you thought it would be.

If you want a calm, enjoyable book to read, anything by Kim Vogel Sawyer is worth reading. But a book about people who love books, and how and words change lives…well, that’s got to be a favorite for me.

The Librarian of Boone’s Hollow is a book-loving mountain girl’s dream. I think it’s one you’ll enjoy, too.
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First Initial Thoughts

Addie is a Junior at a college during the height of the depression. Her life is going well and she loves her job at the library. However, her parents due to the depression lost everything and unfortunately could not support Addie’s tuition. She is forced to leave the University and she has no plan on what she wants to do next. Her employer at the library presented her an opportunity to become a librarian delivering books in the Kentucky mountains to poor individuals. She is thrilled about the idea but boy she is in for a ride. 

Emmett just graduated from the same University and met Addie during one of the annual goodbye bonfires. He has been looking all over town for a job with no luck and has no choice to return home in Boone’s Hollow and plan what to do from there.  Coming home is not what he expected. His mom welcomes him home with open arms but his father and the other town’s folk don’t welcome him so easily. Emmett feels lost and doesn’t know what to do. He just needs a job and reluctantly joins his father in the mines as a worker. 

Another side character that plays an important role later on in the story is Bettina. Bettina grew up with Emmett as a neighbor. She has had a huge crush on Emmett for years and hopes that with him returning home, he will notice her, and then court her. At first, she seemed kind of innocent, a foolish naive child but she kind of got a little too much. I will leave it at that. 


Kim did an amazing job of describing Boone’s Hollow. It’s pretty much what you would expect a mining town to look like in the great depression. However, Kim had a way of describing the place that you learned even more about how the depression impacted everyone, especially the poorest of the poor. It was definitely eye-opening! 

Final Thoughts

The town’s folk in Boone’s Hollow is very narrow-minded and opinionated. We see this happen when Addie tries to deliver the library books for the first week. Many don’t want to associate with her, and more so because she boarded with an older woman named Nanny Fay. Many view Nanny Fay as a witch and are racist over her Cherokee relations (her past husband was part Cherokee). However, as the reader, we find that she is actually a sweet old woman that is misunderstood. Her backstory was heartwarming but also equally sad. 

I think I related to Emmett the most. I graduated from college in 2009 when the market crashed a couple of years prior and jobs were almost nonexistent. It was incredibly hard to get a job in the field I graduated from so I literally took any job I could get. However, I think through those experiences I found God’s plan for me. And we see this with Emmett coming home and finding what he truly is meant to do in life. Even through hardships, God is always there for us. 

Bettina…Oh Bettina. I won’t give too much away but that poor girl just needed help. She needed real professional help. Even though she was kind of nutty and aggressive at times, I think if one understood her backstory we would understand her thought processes. Even though Bettina got on my nerves at times, I think Kim did this for a reason because she wanted the reader to not only understand her motives but also sympathize with her. 

This book also kind of reminded me of the show, The Waltons. Both stories were set during the depression and both stories showed how families suffered during these times. But also how each family preserved through it all and wanted better for their children by offering them books and literature.  

I highly recommend this book and I thoroughly enjoyed this one!
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Kim Vogel Sawyer's books  are always infused with the love of Jesus and His grace for us. I do believe this one is my favorite though. The Librarian of Boone's Hollow is so much more than the story of a young girl looking for work who ends up in the Black Mountains delivering library books. Sawyer has a way of creating characters that become friends to her readers. And this one delivered. I would keep reading if there was more to read. 
The book itself is about Addie, a young lady who's parents lose their home after her father loses his job during the Great Depression. As a result, she has to leave school. Determined to help her parents, she finds a job as a packhorse librarian in Boone's Hollow. But, she finds, the Hill people are not so taken with outsiders. Working with Addie are three young women, one of which is Bettina, a lady with a troubled home life desperate to find love and escape. Emmett is the library director and, even though he has a degree, his return home to Boone's Hollow didn't go as he expected. Add in a "witch lady" named Nanny Fay, some disgruntled townsfolks, and a history of distrust and feuding that goes back as far as anyone can remember, and you have a story well worth your time. As I said, I would keep reading about the folks of Black Mountain if I could. I have no doubt that you will fall in love with them also! 
Thank you to Kim Vogel Sawyer for sharing her love of Jesus with us and all of her characters. I look forward to many more! Thank you also to the publisher and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book. I freely offer my own opinions.
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