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The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  9,243 ratings  ·  2,102 reviews
In 1936, Bluet is the last of the Kentucky Blues. In the dusty Appalachian hills of Troublesome Creek, nineteen and blue-skinned, Bluet has used up her last chance for “respectability” and a marriage bed. Instead, she joins the historical Pack Horse Library Project of Kentucky and becomes a librarian, riding up treacherous mountains on a mule to deliver books and other rea ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published May 7th 2019 by HarperCollins Publishers
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Average rating 4.25  · 
Rating details
 ·  9,243 ratings  ·  2,102 reviews

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Angela M
May 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When I finished this book, I thought it was such a good story and I immediately gave it four stars, but then I thought about it more as I was writing this. I thought about what a meaningful story it is, what an amazing and strong character Cussy Mary Carter is, what a realistic depiction of time and place is presented here, about how much I learned from it, how touched I was, and the wonderful way that the author blends the story of the Blue People of Kentucky with the Pack Horse Library Project ...more
Jan 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019-completed
Update: Today, May 07, 2019 is Happy Publication Date!

In the fierce, majestic mountains and hollers of Appalachian Kentucky in the 1930’s, there were many small towns and communities that were so isolated some people never saw a newspaper. Or, if they did, it was used to paper a layer to the insides of their tiny homes to help keep the weather out. Books, for the most part, were a luxury, and often only family Bibles or the odd family heirloom would be in the home.

In the 1930’s p
Mary Beth *Traveling Sister*
Cussy is a pack horse librarian and she delivers books to people that live in the mountains of Kentucky. She has blue skin. The year is 1936 and the setting takes place in the Appalachian Mountains into the woods of Troublesome Creek. Cussy is a nineteen year old and she is the last living female of the rare Blue People ancestry. She suffers from a hereditary condition called methemoglobinemia. There is a lot of poverty in this town and it was so heartbreaking. Their life is so tough. The people ...more
Dorie  - Cats&Books :)
This was an incredibly original story with a main character that I had so many feelings for! I love when a book makes me go to the internet and research, "blue people" and "book women", I had no idea that there was ever a project such as this. These women really had to love books to hand deliver them to people in the high hills of Kentucky.

My only problem with it was that it was very slowly paced. However when I thought further about it, perhaps it was written that way because that's how Cussy
Diane S ☔
May 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lor-2019
From the beginning I adored Cussy or Bluet as she is called by some. A pack librarian in the Kentucky Appalachians, she delivers books to folks living in the hollers. As part of FDRs work program, she rides her mule and delivers her books. This is depression era, 1930' and people are struggling, making them look forward to the books, newspapers or magazines she brings. Some cannot read, so she reads to them, some are just learning to read, and some just look st the picture She is in all ways won ...more
Brenda -Traveling Sister host of The Traveling Friends
Please check out our Q & A with Kim Michele Richardson. She shared some insight into her research and to her story with us. We could feel her passion and love for her story.

Follow this link to see what she had to say

My review

Kim Michele Richardson brings us a unique, fascinating, impressive, unforgettable story here that explores a part of history in Kent
Norma * Traveling Sister
Fascinating, powerful, and moving!

THE BOOK WOMAN OF TROUBLESOME CREEK by KIM MICHELE RICHARDSON is an interesting, heartfelt, beautiful, and informative story that is packed full of well-researched historical content that I personally never knew about before. Although this story depicts place, people, and time extremely well it had me curious to pop onto the internet numerous times to do a little bit of searching of my own. I had no clue about the “blue people” of Kentucky and the Pack Horse L
Feb 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Cussy Mary Carter was arguably the last "blue skinned person" in Troublesome Creek, Kentucky. The year, 1936. Living in a backwoods, one-room log house, life was a struggle for the nineteen year old and her pa, a coal miner. Pa lit a "courting candle", intent upon making sure Cussy "will knot". Suitors would come and go wanting "a surety" that their progeny would not be blue. Cussy, nicknamed "Bluet", was subjected to taunts, prejudice and continuous ridicule due to her cobalt-blue skin color. H ...more
Troublesome almost misnomer of limited location to the backwoods of Kentucky. Seems that Troublesome holds no boundaries and its edges of tainted water overflow onto humanity. An attitude, a prejudice, an indescribable hate that still visits upon shores.

Kim Michele Richardson presents a beautifully rendered story of life in the hills and the mountains of Kentucky in 1936 in which women, and sometimes men, endeavored to deliver reading materials to the folk in Roosevelt'
Apr 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this story so much!

The Pack Horse Library Project was established in 1935 by President Roosevelt’s Work Progress Administration... an effort to bring jobs to women and bring books and reading material to the poor and isolated areas of Appalachia, where there were few schools and inaccessible roads.

Cussy Mary was one of these women who had a route.. she was 19 yrs old, a coal miner’s daughter, who’s father was trying to marry her off, because he had the bad lung
Diane Barnes
I know I'm rowing against the tide in my review of this book, but my 3 stars is for the things I liked, and I'm not subtracting for the things I didn't. It was a great story with likable characters (for the most part), and I enjoyed the research and information on both the blue people of Kentucky and the Book Women who brought books and magazines to the impoverished families in the hills.

Suffice it to say that the writing was uneven, the dialect was not consistent, and the ending was
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek was a story I savored. The experience of reading it is one I won’t soon forget. ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

In the 1930s, Cussy Mary Carter is living in Troublesome Creek, Kentucky. Her skin is blue, and she is considered “colored” at the time. She’s lonely, and she works hard as a Pack Horse Librarian running books to people in the hills and mountains that would have no access to books if not for her and her loyal pack mule, Junia.

I should also mention Cussy Mary’s Pa wor
A 2019 Favorite!

Thanks to President Roosevelt's NEW DEAL and WPA (Works Progress Administration) program, horse and mule riding librarians took to the remote backroads, more like overgrown trails through the woods and mud-packed steep mountains delivering and talking books. Such hunger for books....and food in the midst of the GREAT depression.

It's 1936 Kentucky when we first meet 19 year old Cussy Mary Carter and her pa who desperately wants to see her hitched and cared for....because he promised her ma....becaudepression.

Lindsay - Traveling Sister
4.5 stars!

Heartbreaking and heartwarming storyline. Inspiring and unforgettable characters. Exquisitely stunning prose. Engrossingly palpable atmosphere. A beautiful book that tugged at my heart strings. I loved every single page of this novel.

Cussy is a young woman living in the remote hills of Kentucky with her coal miner father. She is known as the last blue-skinned woman. Growing up as an outcast in her village, she is used to being shunned and belittled. She takes on
May 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A compelling and story about adaptability, and courage, told With compassion and delicacy Kim Michele Richardson presents a little known chapter of American history that is inspired by the true blue skinned people of Kentucky and the brave and dedicated Kentucky Pack Horse Library service of the 1930s.

Historical Fiction Novels uses emotion to make facts matter and I find these types of novels so important in giving us a glimpse into events and happenings of the past that we might never read ab
Jul 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This title is a lure in itself for any book loving folks. And what a fascinating story it was. It’s 1935 and Cussy is a blue woman! What?!? Yes, apparently blue people existed in Kentucky and were treated no better than the blacks. Maybe even a little worse. But Cussy, also known as Bluet and the Book Woman, shares her love of reading by delivering books to the people in the hills who don’t have easy access to libraries or schools. Her journeys are thrilling as she shares her passion with those ...more
Jul 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5000-2019
This is a fascinating book full of historical facts that I never knew before. I love discovering new information from my fiction reads!

The book woman of Troublesome Creek is someone very rare - a member of the blue people of Kentucky. This was real. As a result of inbreeding some people developed a rare blood condition which meant their skin was blue and their blood was brown. At a time when white was the only colour to be, these blue skinned people were shunned as 'coloured' and exc
Book of Secrets
May 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Cussy Mary was such a compelling and unique character in this novel set in depression-era Kentucky. I warmed to her and her amazing story right away. ♥

Part of President Roosevelt's plan to bring jobs to struggling rural areas was the Pack Horse Library Project. Working for this program, Cussy and her mule delivered second-hand books to the poorest of mountain folks surrounding Troublesome Creek.

Cussy was called Bluet by many locals because of the uncommon color of her ski
I love novels where the story telling is based on true historical facts, especially when they are something I'd never heard of before. In this novel, the author weaves together two interesting, well researched historical episodes from 1930s Kentucky to tell a fascinating and memorable story.

Nineteen year old Cussy Mary Carter and her widowed coal miner father live in a small shack near Troublesome Creek, where they barely scrape by on his meagre wages and her small salary as a librar
Jul 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
What a great listen! I loved that the audiobook dropped me right in the middle of rural Kentucky in the 1930s. Cussy Mary, the main character/narrator, spoke in a thick dialect that sounded perfectly natural while listening. I might not have enjoyed this quite so much if I had tried to read her speech patterns, so I'd highly suggest listening to The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek.

What a great listen! I loved that the audiobook dropped me right in the middle of rural Kentucky in the 1930s. Cussy Mary, the main character/narrator, spoke in a thick dialect that sounded perfectly natural while listening. I might not have enjoyed this quite so much if I had tried to read her speech patterns, so I'd highly suggest listening to The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek.

Kim Michele Richardson must have done an incredible amount of research to portray life during the Great Depression so vividly. (I was surprised to find out that the Blue People of Kentucky were real, too!) Every step of the way, I cared about what happened to Cussy Mary and her family, friends, and neighbors. It's stunning to think that as recently as the 1930s, people were still living the way that's described in the book.

My only complaint is that I'm not a huge fan of the way things wrapped up in this story, so I'll call it a 4.5/5. (Right now, I'm indecisive about whether I should round up or down.) I'd highly recommend giving it a listen!
Apr 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book broke my heart, twisted it, stomped on it, and then uplifted it. I cried and raged as I read it. It is an emotional hotbed kind of read dealing with extreme poverty and hardship, discrimination, and perseverance.

Cussy Mary Carter is a "Blue" (the last female of the blue-skinned people of Kentucky) who lives with her father (a "Blue" coal miner) and who works for Roosevelt's WPA Pack Horse Library Project. She delivers books to isolated mountain people. These people are so poor some ar
Oh this book! It just got me in all the right places! I really struggled to put this down at all -- I wanted to read straight through to see what was going to happen next for Cussy Mary. In this book, Author Kim Michele Richardson paints the most exquisitely detailed picture of what life would have been like during the depression in the Kentucky hills.

I alternated between reading an ARC and listening to the audiobook as narrated by Katie Schorr. If you are an audiobook fan (and maybe even if you're not), I stro
Cindy Burnett
Feb 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is a gem of a book and a tribute to the importance of books. Richardson tackles numerous topics from Kentucky in the 1930s - horrific coal mining conditions, the true blue-skinned people that lived in Appalachia, and the Pack Horse library service. The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is a tale of family, prejudice, and perseverance, and one woman’s decision to find her own way despite her hardscrabble existence. One of my favorite parts of the book was Richard ...more
Cathrine ☯️
3.75 🔹🔹🔹🔹
The bluegrass state, blue moon over, bluebirds in the trees, blue-eyed marys growing beneath, and come to find out— blue people among them, but not on the cover. Why is that?

Main character Cussy, AKA Bluet, is one, due to a rare genetic condition. She and her father suffer prejudice and poverty. He is slowly dying underground in the mines while she, on her mule, delivers library materials to remote mountain folk in the hills and hollers during the 1930s.
People are happy
Apr 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
5 fantastic blue stars to “The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek”

Every once in a while, a book turns out to be an amazing surprise, not much hype yet, but something about it draws you in. This is the case with this book. I found it very intriguing to read about women (mostly) who would take books to isolated folks in Kentucky and other rural spots via horseback. Imagine my surprise when the main character is described as having blue skin – I had to rethink the genre of this book, was t
An enlightening and fascinating historical fiction novel that was impossible to put down and will be a hard book to forget.

THE BOOK WOMAN OF TROUBLESOME CREEK is about the WPA Pack Horse Library Project of 1935 and the factual Blue People of eastern Kentucky.  It’s a tribute to the librarians who traveled on horseback and mule to provide books to the poor and isolated communities in Kentucky.

Cussy Mary Carter is the last living female of the rare Blue People ancestry. She becomes
The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is about a young woman, Cussie Mary Carter, also named Bluet, who worked for the Pack Horse Library Project of Kentucky, delivering books and other reading materials to people up in the hills and mountains around Troublesome Creek in the 1930s.

Cussie is a special young woman, in mmany ways - her skin is blue, her blood is like chocolate. She and her father are the last people with this condition, a rare genetic disorder. Her father is a miner and they b
Connie G
Cussy Mary was one of the librarians working for the Pack Horse Library Project of Kentucky, part of the WPA program during the Great Depression. She traveled by mule bringing books, newspapers, and scrapbooks to the poor, isolated families in the mountains. She and her father lived in the coal mining town of Troublesome Creek. Her father was determined to see her married soon since he wondered how long his health would hold up in the mines.

Cussy Mary experienced prejudice due to the
Dale Harcombe
Aug 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Cussy Mary is just lovely. She is so concerned for the children and other people on her library route that she often forgoes food for herself, so she can help feed them. She has a beautiful caring nature that constantly puts the need of others over her own. A strong woman she is determined, despite the prejudice she receives and the dangers she encounters, to do her job to the best of her ability.
This is a heartbreaking, beautifully told tale. It is a story of hardship but also of compassion an
Julie  Durnell
Aug 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my favorite reads this year! Cussy Mary (Bluet) is a young woman wise beyond her years and incredibly strong, brave, and intelligent despite the extreme poverty of the Kentucky Appalachia area she lives with her pa. The story is written so beautifully that it's almost poetic. It depicts the fear, racism, ignorance, and abject poverty with empathy; love not hate. I learned about the "blue-skinned folk" and the people of the Pack Horse Librarians who risked so much to bring reading material ...more
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Kim Michele Richardson lives in Kentucky and resides part-time in Western North Carolina. She has volunteered for Habitat for Humanity, building houses, and is an advocate for the prevention of child abuse and domestic violence, partnering with the U.S. Navy globally to bring awareness and education to the prevention of domestic violence. She is the author of the bestselling memoir The Unbreakable ...more
“I never understood why other people thought my color, any color, needed fixing.” 6 likes
“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.” 2 likes
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