REVIEW: The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek

You KNOW I love a good literary scandal! There was some controversy surrounding this book in this fall, around the publication date of The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes. Basically, the two books both have plots that center around packhorse librarians in Kentucky during the depression. This BuzzFeed article does a good job of explaining the comparisons of the two books.

I read The Giver of Stars back in November, and really loved it. It touched on race, loss, grief, and poverty. I absolutely loved it and the characters within the story. The world building was well-done as well. It was also a November 2019 Book of the Month selection.

I purchased The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson at Copperfish Books in Punta Gorda, FL on Black Friday. I wanted to support an indie bookstore & this author that wasn’t getting as much exposure as Jojo’s BOTM pick. This book was hyped all over #bookstagram, and while it was a fun story about a little known snippet of our country;s history, this book was sadly not as well done as Moyes’, in my opinion. This novel follows Cussy, who is actually one of the last blue people of Kentucky. I had no idea about this phenomenon, and really appreciate the author’s research on this topic! It was fascinating to learn about this rare blood disorder and to see how it manifested and affected Cussy and her father.

I really enjoyed meeting Cussy’s library patrons as she rode the trail. There were a lot of patrons to keep track of, so I thought of it as little vignettes as I read. Some characters came back and were integral to the plot, but there were others that weren’t that important. It was difficult to keep track of who was who.

Additionally, the pacing of this novel was a bit of a mess. It was really interesting to see the racial and social dynamics of the era, but we almost got too much. There were a number of major life changes for Cussy in the last 20-or-so pages of the novel that I WANTED to read more about, but the book just smushed them all together and made for a rushed & abrupt end.

My one final question, one that all readers should be working to ask as we read — who has the right to tell this story? There are no “blue people” left, so is it okay for this author to tell this story? I don’t know. I do think it was well researched, but there’s no easy answer here.

All in all, it was a sweet, well-researched read about a topic I knew very little about, so I did enjoy it. 3/5 stars for me.

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