The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson
In 1930’s Appalachia, many homesteads were inaccessible to all but the most persistent visitors, and the people who lived on them were wary of outsiders. The pack horse library program was a godsend in getting reading materials to as many people as possible, and also served as a bit of a welfare check as one person (often a woman, and in this story it was Cussy Mary) formed relationships with the people and families in these outposts and checked on them every few weeks as new books were delivered and old ones returned. As fascinating and inspiring as this special program was, this book also takes on a unique people in history- the Blues, a family tree of Kentuckians who all carried a rare genetic mutation that affected the way their body carried oxygen to their tissues, giving them a distinct blue color. They were often persecuted and were the victims of prejudice and exploitation because of their skin color.
However, this story isn’t so much about either the pack horse librarian program, or being a Blue, but more so about community, connection, love, support, and prejudice. It’s about surviving a hard and hungry time as the Depression reached into every crevice of American life. It’s about bravery and honor and love. It’s a beautiful and inspiring tale. I completely enjoyed it and could hardly put it down. Historical fiction, especially about events and people I haven’t heard of before, is one of my very favorite genres to read, and this book is a fantastic example of books like this that I love. Definitely my first five star read of 2020, and I will be surprised if I come across another book this year that touches me as deeply as this one has.