The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson
In the 1930s President Roosevelt started the Kentucky Pack Horse Library Project to help get books, magazines and pamphlets to the hill folk of Appalachia. Cussy Mary Carter is proud to be one of those librarians and she takes her route very seriously and cares for all the patrons along her route in the mountains around Troublesome. Yet despite having a job she loves Cussy Mary’s life isn’t easy. Her ma is dead and it’s just her and her pa now and he works long, hard hours at the mine and is having trouble breathing. Her pa wants her to marry so he knows she’ll be taken care of when he’s gone but who would want to marry a blue?
Cussy Mary and her father are based on the blue people of Kentucky, people born with blue-tinged skin. The hatred and fear some people feel towards her because of her skin is very similar to the treatment of the few black people in the community since all are considered colored in the eyes of the law. It’s interesting to see how Cussy is treated when she receives medicine for her condition.
The poverty of the hill folk during the depression is heartbreaking but learning about how reading was able to ease their worries for a time and gave some people the courage and means to try a different path out of the mines and Appalachia is inspiring. This is a wonderful choice on audiobook; the narrator uses a Kentucky accent which makes the book come to life.
Apparently Jojo Moyes has also written a book about the pack horse librarians this year but I’m unsure how she’ll be able to make a more memorable, or kind, librarian than Cussy Mary. Who knew librarians on horseback would be so popular?!