The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek

A Novel

Book - 2019
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"Cussy Mary Carter is the last of her kind, her skin the color of a blue damselfly in these dusty hills. But that doesn't mean she's got nothing to offer. As a member of the Pack Horse Library Project, Cussy delivers books to the hill folk of Troublesome, hoping to spread learning in these desperate times. But not everyone is so keen on Cussy's family or the Library Project, and the hardscrabble Kentuckians are quick to blame a Blue for any trouble in their small town. The Book Woman of Troublesome Creekis a story of raw courage, fierce strength, and one woman's determination to bring a little bit of hope to the darkly hollers"--Provided by publisher.
Publisher: Naperville, Illinois : Sourcebooks Landmark, c2019.
ISBN: 9781492691631
1492691631
Characteristics: 308 pages ; 24 cm.

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t
TheLibraryBabe
Jul 17, 2019

Amazing historical novel depicting two unusual aspects of 1930s Kentucky: the packhorse librarians paid by the WPA to bring donated books to the starving hill people of Kentucky and the plight of a small clan of people known as the Blue People of Kentucky. Born with an extremely rare recessive gene that prevents "the Kentucky Blues" from getting enough oxygen in their blood and tinging them blue, this family clan was forced by prejudice, isolation and the Kentucky Mysogenation laws to marry within their "color", thus perpetuating their genetic condition. The story both spotlights the sufferings of this small family clan in Kentucky, and is a wider metaphor for the struggles of all people of color. In addition to depicting her struggles with the prejudice and isolation from the white community around her, the main character, Cussy Mary Carter or "Bluet" is also a fiercely dedicated librarian who is determined to serve and help her patrons despite many obstacles. Unlike most novels featuring librarians, this novel focuses on her vocation as a librarian (not a crime solver who happens to be a librarian in her spare time). The Book Woman is really about Cussy Mary's love of books and her convictions to respect & help her patrons by relieving both their mental and physical starvation, and how this service eventually brings her relief from her own isolation and loneliness.

j
Jordan_Lusink
Jul 07, 2019

I DNF'd this book. I have been excited about it for months, found the premise really interesting, but made it 40 pages in and realized this book was not for me. Content warnings for suicide, spousal sexual and physical abuse, and sexual assault (just in the 40 pages I read).

DCLadults Jun 25, 2019

A New & Noteworthy pick. It’s not easy to survive in Kentucky during the depression. Cussy Mary gets by delivering books to the mountain people, but she is an outcast because she is one of the last of the Kentucky “blue people.” Fact: It is a genetic trait that causes blue-tinged skin.

JCLKariE Jun 18, 2019

The Pack Horse librarians are a force to be reckoned with and fascinating to read about. The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is a perfect book group choice. Cussy Mary is a character to root for and cry with, knowing she will overcome the prejudice and hatred in town.

ArapahoeAlice Jun 13, 2019

Loved this book! The heroine, called Bluet because she has blue skin, is hired as a traveling librarian by Roosevelt's Kentucky Pack Horse Library Project to deliver books to families in the hills near her home in Troublesome Creek. She is known as the last of the Blues and suffers hostility because of her skin. She fears no one will help her if she is attacked on her far-flung routes, but she courageously delivers books every day.
Her mother is dead, her dad has lung disease from coal dust. He insists that she marry so that someone will care for her when he’s gone. Bluet believes a man will only marry her to get her hands on her father’s property.
Bluet doesn’t just deliver books; she helps people in any way she can, trying to get medical care for them, and sharing the tiny amounts of food she has.
The author was inspired by the actual blue-skinned people of Kentucky and the Kentucky Pack Horse library service of the 1930s.
It’s not just an historical narration of events, it’s a powerful novel with beautiful writing and deeply drawn characters.

SPL_Melanie Jun 11, 2019

See full review under Summary tab

l
leroi0211
Jun 05, 2019

1 word "STELLAR"!

r
Reads_A_Lot
May 30, 2019

This is the 2nd historical fiction book I’ve read about the Kentucky Pack Horse Librarians, but the first time I’ve heard of the blue-skinned people of Kentucky. The packhorse librarians were part of President Roosevelt’s WPA projects. I’m in awe of these tough, brave women who rode horses and mules through treacherous terrain and weather to bring books and learning to the hill people who did not have access to libraries. They also brought a human connection to many who were isolated. The story follows a blue-skinned librarian who is loved by the folks on her book route, but receives the same prejudice as blacks by the townspeople. Gives a good look into the lives of the coal mining community, the poverty, the superstitions, their strong will, and their pride at refusing to accept charity. I enjoyed riding along with Bluet the Book Woman.

JCLHeatherM May 17, 2019

Through no fault of her own, librarian Cussy Mary is ostracized in her small coal town in Kentucky. Cussy proves herself to be a guiding light and an advocate for the forgotten population (the elderly, poor, uneducated) through the Pack Horse Library Project program - part of Franklin Roosevelt's ' Work Progress Administration' program. As a 'book woman' Cussy set the tone for future librarians with her compassion and love of the written word.

d
darladoodles
Apr 26, 2019

One of my favorite reads this year! Cussy Mary Carter will ride her mule Junia right into your heart. She is one of the blue-skinned people of Kentucky (later found to have a congenital condition called methemoglobinemia) and a Pack Horse librarian for the WPA. The year is 1936 and the folks in the hollers near Troublesome Creek are suffering. Cussy takes pride in her role as a provider of books and other written materials for the patrons on her route despite the prevailing prejudice concerning her skin condition. The Blues rank below the Negroes in the economy of people in these parts. This story will remind you of the power of books and introduce you to the scrappy Book Women who enlightened the lives of the people in Appalachia. Reminded my of the classic book "Christy" and would make a fantastic book group read.

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SPL_Melanie Jun 11, 2019

It's the middle of the Depression years, 1936 in the hills of Kentucky. Cussy Mary, sometimes called Bluet, is one of the Kentucky Blues -- a clan who have actual blue skin, and are shunned for it. Cussy Mary is determined not to be limited, though, and applies via mail for a job newly created by the Federal Administration in its WPA (Works Progress Administration) program. She becomes a Pack Horse Librarian.

Her job is to deliver books to mountain families along a lonely and hard route, and she loves it, even if the two white ladies running the local depot don't approve of her, one quite vocally and cruelly.

Her pa, though, wants her to marry. After a brief, disastrous union at the beginning of the book, she becomes dedicated to her job and to supporting her pa in his secret work with the coal miners unions.

There is so much drama in this book, so many ups and downs. The historical setting is fascinating and utterly compelling; it is all based in fact, even the Blues. The look at prejudice as related to unusual conditions like that of the Blues, added to the talk of social unrest like unions, the disaster that was coal mining even then, and the WPA Pack Horse Librarian program, all equal a book that is so full of social relevance that it would be worth reading even without the wonderful descriptive writing and the fine characterizations. Lucky for readers that it has both.

This is a book that will grab you and keep you reading. Cussy Mary is a strong and sympathetic main character with the ability to keep her spirits unbowed even with all of the trauma she experiences. And despite one too many traumatic incidents crammed in during the denouement of the book, it feels like there is some hope in the conclusion. And woven throughout is the power of reading and of literature to uplift and broaden a life. If you enjoy unusual historical novels with unique characters and a warm heart of social commentary, this will be one for you.

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