The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek

Book - 2019
Average Rating:
Rate this:
"Cussy Mary Carter is the last of her kind, her skin the color of a blue damselfly in these dusty hills. But that doesn't mean she's got nothing to offer. As a member of the Pack Horse Library Project, Cussy delivers books to the hill folk of Troublesome, hoping to spread learning in these desperate times. But not everyone is so keen on Cussy's family or the Library Project, and the hardscrabble Kentuckians are quick to blame a Blue for any trouble in their small town. The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is a story of raw courage, fierce strength, and one woman's determination to bring a little bit of hope to the darkly hollers."--Provided by publisher.
Publisher: Toronto, Ontario, Canada : HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, [2019]
Edition: First Canadian edition.
Copyright Date: ©2019
ISBN: 9781443458658
Branch Call Number: RICHA
Characteristics: 308 pages : illustrations, maps ; 23 cm


From Library Staff

Cussy Mary Carter is the last of the Kentucky Blues, having a rare disorder that makes her skin appear blue. As a member of the Pack Horse Library Project, Cussy delivers books to the hill fold of Troublesome, but not everyone is so keen on Cussy's family or the Library Project...

From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Sep 20, 2020

A very interesting book. I wasn't a fan of the first few chapters but decided to give the book a chance. I'm glad I did. Bluet's love of books is very familiar and relatable, and her relationships with her patrons was so endearing. The story took turns I did not expect. I would recommend this book.

Sep 14, 2020

I grew up near Appalachia in Tennessee and can say that the hardscrabble life in this book is, even today, a good depiction. What I did not know about was the "blue people" and or the "Pack Horse Library Project". The author did a lot of research and it shows in the book.

The main character, Cussy Mary Carter, is a strong woman. She gains respect from her clients and graciously tolerates the put-downs from her "betters". She finds love in the most unexpected place.

What saddens me about this book is that the kind of discrimination she faced in the '30s still goes on today. There are people who think they are so much better than others. They cannot appreciate differences in individuals. They think that an individual cannot have skills and abilities just because they are different. And when something good happens to Cussy Mary they are jealous. They are satisfied in their part in her punishment; they feel justified. Cussy Mary has courage, strength of character that her "betters" will never have. Cussy Mary is blessed with a beautiful child, a strong loving husband, friends and a life many of her "betters" will never have.

This book is worth reading. Give it some thought. You will come to appreciate the story

Sep 02, 2020

This book is the bittersweet story of the women who carried books to the back woods of Kentucky during the Roosevelt administration. It also told about the coal miners of the area and the Blue people of Kentucky, something I had never heard about.

Aug 15, 2020

This was such a good historical fiction piece. This follows Cussy Mary Carter who is a librarian for the Pack Horse Library Project where she delivers book on her mule across Troublesome Creek in the mountains of Kentucky being funded by Roosevelt’s WPA. Cussy experiences extreme poverty and racial discrimination because of her blue skin. Through it all Cussy delivers her books on the dangerous trails and fights her internal demons as she finds her own identity as not only a librarian, but a woman and a Blue. This book has a little bit of everything and you can’t help but fall in love with Cussy and end up cheering her on with everything she does. This book has an amazing story and wonderful characters. Really good read.

Aug 01, 2020

This looked like such a good book, but I didn't get past the first chapter because of language used. Usually content follows.....

IndyPL_MelindaM Jul 29, 2020

What a wonderfully researched historical fiction book! I knew about librarians on horseback but learned much more about them in this story. I also learned much more about the 1930s in Kentucky and how much control the mining companies had over the people. Cussy Mary showed such dedication to the people she served, no matter the obstacles, getting as many of the materials they needed to them as soon as she could. She fought racism, domestic abuse, and did her best to help the other impoverished people she met along the way. I found myself rooting for her and hoping and praying for many of the families she helped. The author does not shy from showing just how difficult life was and there were sections of this book that were hard to read because life was so harsh. That said, this was an interesting story that kept me up into the wee hours of the morning.

Jul 27, 2020

I love historical fiction that is so well researched. The writing may not be incredible but the story is one that needs to be retold over and over less we forget the important lessons it shares.

Jul 08, 2020

5 stars for the book, maybe 2 stars for the so-called "reviews." And I mean the ones from the alleged professional reviewers, like Publishers Weekly, not the ones from other library users. There are all kinds of spoilers before we even see the book. I think I learned in grade school that a retelling of the plot does not constitute a "review." And that spoilers are bad form. When will these so-called pros learn these basics of reviewing? Looks like the word professional only means that one gets paid, not that one is any good at one's work.

Jul 02, 2020

This is a WONDERFUL story: I loved it! It is a story about the blue-skinned people of Kentucky and about the Kentucky Pack Horse Project of Book Women who either by horse or mule or by walking or boat delivered books to people in the parts of Kentucky without libraries during the Depression. This is also a story about prejudices and fear of people who are different from us . . .and how cruel people can be .

Jun 29, 2020

This well-written historical fiction book is about the pack horse librarians who served as the first librarians in depression-era Kentucky. This reader could tell that much research had gone into writing this beautiful story. If you love books and libraries, you must not miss this one!

View All Comments


Add a Quote
Oct 22, 2019

“The very existence of libraries affords the best evidence that we may yet have hope for the future of man.” —T. S. Eliot
The Epigraph

Oct 22, 2019

“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.” - p. 20

Oct 22, 2019

“What I wanted most was to be okay as a Blue. I never understood why other people thought my color, any color, needed fixing.” - p. 130

Oct 22, 2019

“There's nothing wrong with your color, being you,’ he said firmly. 'Nothing wrong with what the good Lord gives us in His world, Cussy Mary.’
He didn't know, couldn't know, the load I'd carried as a Blue, the scorn and hatred and gruesome marriage. How dare Pa call me vain and now Jackson. How dare he too? ‘Nothing wrong—‘Jackson repeated.
I stepped back and shot out a shaky hand. ‘No, Jackson Lovett, you're wrong. There is nothing wrong with your color in your world, a world that wants only whiteness.” - p. 204


Add a Summary
SPL_Melanie Jun 11, 2019

It's the middle of the Depression years, 1936 in the hills of Kentucky. Cussy Mary, sometimes called Bluet, is one of the Kentucky Blues -- a clan who have actual blue skin, and are shunned for it. Cussy Mary is determined not to be limited, though, and applies via mail for a job newly created by the Federal Administration in its WPA (Works Progress Administration) program. She becomes a Pack Horse Librarian.

Her job is to deliver books to mountain families along a lonely and hard route, and she loves it, even if the two white ladies running the local depot don't approve of her, one quite vocally and cruelly.

Her pa, though, wants her to marry. After a brief, disastrous union at the beginning of the book, she becomes dedicated to her job and to supporting her pa in his secret work with the coal miners unions.

There is so much drama in this book, so many ups and downs. The historical setting is fascinating and utterly compelling; it is all based in fact, even the Blues. The look at prejudice as related to unusual conditions like that of the Blues, added to the talk of social unrest like unions, the disaster that was coal mining even then, and the WPA Pack Horse Librarian program, all equal a book that is so full of social relevance that it would be worth reading even without the wonderful descriptive writing and the fine characterizations. Lucky for readers that it has both.

This is a book that will grab you and keep you reading. Cussy Mary is a strong and sympathetic main character with the ability to keep her spirits unbowed even with all of the trauma she experiences. And despite one too many traumatic incidents crammed in during the denouement of the book, it feels like there is some hope in the conclusion. And woven throughout is the power of reading and of literature to uplift and broaden a life. If you enjoy unusual historical novels with unique characters and a warm heart of social commentary, this will be one for you.


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Subject Headings

No similar edition of this title was found at PDL.

View available edition

Report edition-matching error

To Top