The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek written by Kim Michele Richardson.
As the first book review to be posted on my site Literature Overload I wanted to share something which pulled in a little local color. Being a Kentuckian I chose this story for the intrigue. My surprise and curiosity took flight when I read this book’s summary. Apparently, there are Blue people in Kentucky. After spending the better part of my adolescent and adult life in the state I was shocked, I never heard of such a thing. This is not some sort of code or saying, in the past there was a region in Kentucky which held a population of people who had blue skin and nails. The true color of the bluegrass. As some readers might know Kentucky is all about the Horses, Bourbon, and UK Basketball. We wear blue proudly and not just at sporting events. UK Basketball is something to behold for visitors of this fine Appalachian state. It is a roaring sea of pride, thousands parading around in UK blue and wildcats.
I however was unaware there were people of blue colored skin to ever live on the planet, much less two hours from my home.
The story set in the 1930’s, about Cussy Mary Carter who is believed to be the last blue person in the region. She lives in Troublesome creek, a small place in the hills to lowly to even mark on a map. This book has everything any reader could find interesting. Intrigue, murder… Yes. Social distress, disorder, discrimination… yes. The rise of the under-dog… again yes. Love and compassion… you guessed it. If readers do not find any of these reasons to be enough to pick up the novel, there is always to odd science fiction vibe of the fact that the woman is blue.
Cussy Mary “Bluet” Carter is a teenager (19) struggling with her own self worth. She struggles with the fact society at this time expects women to marry to be “respectable”. Being a blue person marriage is seen as a test in hell. Bluet is afforded the opportunity to grow. Dur to the influence of the government and WPA she has been offered a position as a “Book Woman”. As a person in the Horse Library Project she rides through the hills to help deliver books and other materials to the people who live in the “back country”. She has true pride in herself, her hill folks, and town. With a job she manages to make an income, during a time when money is the bread of life.
Without this service many would not have the ability to have any kind of knowledge outside their plot of land. Her father is a coal miner who also suffers from the same skin condition. Her mother had already passed leaving just her and her father to struggle through poverty in the hills. Throughout the book you see how she struggles and survives given the blind hate and discrimination she faced.
“A sneaky time thief is in them books.” (43 Richardson). I whole heartedly agree!!
Having a well written story set in front of you, no matter the genre, his hard to resist. Richardson brings just this to the table with The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek. There is at no point a part which a person would want to skip in this novel. Read it, in its entirety. “If a book is well written I always find it to short.” – Jane Austen
From the beginning you feel the struggle of the hill folk in the middle of nowhere Kentucky. People die because of starvation, antiquated beliefs, and that damn snake pit of a coal mine. Life is not always sunshine and rainbows, nothing is tied in cute little bows. However, you see strength and triumph and a belief in something better. So, for the sake of the times, the history, and your own mind give this novel a chance. You could not be disappointed.
Richardson sure did her research when looking into this region and these people. Below are some of the images which are in the book.
Below are some links for a further look into this mystery of Blue people.