Kim Michele Richardson’s The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is a beautiful example of a historical novel that sheds light on a little-known aspect of American history. Frankly, I wish publishers would look for more stories like this instead of endlessly bringing out books about the world wars.
This story focuses on two aspects of Kentucky’s history: first, the pack horse librarians who at some danger to themselves carried books and magazines into some of the poorer regions of the Kentucky hills and, second, the blue people of Kentucky, whose unusual color was caused by a recessive genetic condition and which caused them to be discriminated against in much the same way Black citizens were.
Richardson herself is a native of Kentucky, and she conveys an especially strong sense of the place and culture. Cussy Mary is a likable narrator, spunky without being overly modern. Through Cussy’s father, the story also highlights the hardships of Kentucky coal miners.
The book has a satisfying but not too saccharine ending and an epilogue that explains more about the historical background. I enjoyed the novel very much.