The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek

A Novel

Book - 2019
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1936. Tucked deep into the woods of Troublesome Creek, KY, lives blue-skinned Cussy Carter, the last living female of the rare Blue People ancestry. She joins Roosevelt's Pack Horse Library Project of Kentucky and becomes a traveling librarian, riding across slippery creek beds and up treacherous mountains on her mule to deliver books and other reading material to the impoverished hill people of Eastern Kentucky. Along her route, Cussy faces doubters at every turn, but is determined to bring the joy of books to the hardscrabble Kentuckians. -- adapted from jacket.
Publisher: Naperville, Illinois : Sourcebooks Landmark, [2019]
Copyright Date: ©2019
ISBN: 9781492671527
Characteristics: 308 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm


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Karen H. at Hopkins Library recommends this.

From the critics

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Jan 18, 2021

I read this book when it first came out and I still talk and think about it. It is a great read with a women to be reconned with. Cussy is a strong willed yet caring person, you cannot help but care for her.

Jan 16, 2021

Excellent read....highly recommended! I'd never heard of the genetic condition causing people to have blue skin.
Cussy is a strong woman, overcoming obstacles most never have to face while bringing the gift of reading/learning to the hill people of Kentucky. The poverty and struggle of the people to survive is heartbreaking. There are lots of hardships for many, especially for the coal miners of Kentucky. The service Cussy provides is important and appreciated by the library patrons. Prejudice and ignorance are rampant in the hills and the times, but finally Cussy 's perseverance stands her in good stead!

STPL_JessH Dec 22, 2020

Listen, I know I am late to this party but I am STAYIN! This book is great. Never have I ever said to people "I'm reading a book with a feminist mule!" I mean, to be honest, Junia is the best character. I defy anyone to convince me otherwise.

Dec 10, 2020

Fantastic book...I couldn't put it down.

Nov 14, 2020

I didn't know about the blue-skinned people of Kentucky or about the Pack Horse Library program under FDR's Works Progress Administration before reading this book.

RIYL: Where the Crawdads Sing and Kristin Hannah. I recommend this book for book clubs.

Nov 11, 2020


Oct 09, 2020

How does this book differ from Jojo Moyes The Giver of Stars?
Which author decided on using the Pack Horse Library Project as a starting point for a novel first, I wonder?

Sep 20, 2020

A very interesting book. I wasn't a fan of the first few chapters but decided to give the book a chance. I'm glad I did. Bluet's love of books is very familiar and relatable, and her relationships with her patrons was so endearing. The story took turns I did not expect. I would recommend this book.

Sep 14, 2020

I grew up near Appalachia in Tennessee and can say that the hardscrabble life in this book is, even today, a good depiction. What I did not know about was the "blue people" and or the "Pack Horse Library Project". The author did a lot of research and it shows in the book.

The main character, Cussy Mary Carter, is a strong woman. She gains respect from her clients and graciously tolerates the put-downs from her "betters". She finds love in the most unexpected place.

What saddens me about this book is that the kind of discrimination she faced in the '30s still goes on today. There are people who think they are so much better than others. They cannot appreciate differences in individuals. They think that an individual cannot have skills and abilities just because they are different. And when something good happens to Cussy Mary they are jealous. They are satisfied in their part in her punishment; they feel justified. Cussy Mary has courage, strength of character that her "betters" will never have. Cussy Mary is blessed with a beautiful child, a strong loving husband, friends and a life many of her "betters" will never have.

This book is worth reading. Give it some thought. You will come to appreciate the story

Sep 02, 2020

This book is the bittersweet story of the women who carried books to the back woods of Kentucky during the Roosevelt administration. It also told about the coal miners of the area and the Blue people of Kentucky, something I had never heard about.

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Add a Quote
Oct 22, 2019

“The very existence of libraries affords the best evidence that we may yet have hope for the future of man.” —T. S. Eliot
The Epigraph

Oct 22, 2019

“Being able to return to the books was a sanctuary for my heart. And a joy bolted free, lessening my own grievances, forgiving spent youth and dying dreams lost to a hard life, the hard land, and to folks’ hard thoughts and partialities.” - p. 20

Oct 22, 2019

“What I wanted most was to be okay as a Blue. I never understood why other people thought my color, any color, needed fixing.” - p. 130

Oct 22, 2019

“There's nothing wrong with your color, being you,’ he said firmly. 'Nothing wrong with what the good Lord gives us in His world, Cussy Mary.’
He didn't know, couldn't know, the load I'd carried as a Blue, the scorn and hatred and gruesome marriage. How dare Pa call me vain and now Jackson. How dare he too? ‘Nothing wrong—‘Jackson repeated.
I stepped back and shot out a shaky hand. ‘No, Jackson Lovett, you're wrong. There is nothing wrong with your color in your world, a world that wants only whiteness.” - p. 204


Add a Summary
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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