I give The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek a 3.5.
Cussy Mary is a "Kentucky Blue," born from a family whose skin is blue. Already struggling in poor Appalachia in the 1930s, being colored is just another hurdle Cussy has to get around. Called Bluet by the majority of the population, she overcomes her stigma by becoming a Book Woman, one of the programs set up to help the poor area by providing books to the local population. Bluet must contents with racist town folk, murderous preachers, and the creatures of the Appalachian wilderness. Each day, she rises above this because proving books, knowledge to her patrons gives her a sense of purpose.
I'll be honest, I was intrigued because I had never heard of the Blues. And honestly, I feel like my education has let me down. While it was coffined to small, confined areas, it happened to many other populations and not just Kentucky. There is, in fact, an answer and diagnosis in regards to this and I've never heard about it. I loved learning about the illness and it broke my heart that these people were treated so shamelessly. I will make sure my children know their story.
I really enjoyed learning about the life of those in Appalachia. My heart ached for each patron on her route. In fact, I had sympathy for everyone but her supervisors at the Center; they were horrible people. I was frustrated for their fights from the coal miners to the chicken stealers. I do think, that these stories were too strung along. There were so many it was hard to truly get into these stories as deeply as was called for. There were times when they slowed down the narrative dragging the story along as slowly as the mule on the rocky path.
That being said, I like how the author didn't play all her cards up front,. We didn't meet each patron ass the beginning adding freshness to the story and Cussy Mary's route. But at points these stories started to drown out the Book Woman's story.
My biggest issue with the novel is the ending. It is thrown in at last minute and is a huge twist in the tale. The author handles it in one chapter and an epilogue when it is a clear turning point for the story that needed more time to deal with and understand. A "poof" and its gone answer belittled the event and the story.
Overall, I enjoyed reading about the Book Women, Appalachia and the Blues. I would have like itr in a more well rounded novel though.