GODPRETTY IN THE TOBACCO FIELD
(See Special Author's Note at the Bottom)
A Coalminer's Daughter meets Winter's Bone tale of tender love and loss which examines the power of land, crushing poverty, and the oppression of Appalachian women then and that which is relevant now.
Nameless, Kentucky, in 1969 is a hardscrabble community where jobs are few and poverty is a simple fact—just like the hot Appalachian breeze or the pests that can wipe out a tobacco field in days. RubyLyn Bishop is luckier than some. Her God-fearing uncle, Gunnar, has a short fuse and high expectations, but he’s given her a good home ever since she was orphaned at the age of five. Yet now, a month shy of her sixteenth birthday, RubyLyn itches for more.
Maybe it’s something to do with the paper fortunetellers RubyLyn has been making for townsfolk, each covered with beautifully wrought, prophetic drawings. Or perhaps it’s because of Rainey Ford, an African-American neighbor who works alongside her in the tobacco field, and with whom she has a kinship, despite her uncle’s worrisome shadow and the town’s disapproval. RubyLyn’s predictions are just wishful thinking, not magic at all, but through them she’s imagining life as it could be, away from the prejudice and hardship that ripple through Nameless.
Atmospheric, poignant, and searingly honest, GodPretty in the Tobacco Field follows RubyLyn through the course of one blazing summer, as heartbreaking revelations and life-changing decisions propel her toward a future her fortunetellers never predicted.
*Longlisted for the Pat Conroy Southern Book Prize
*Mayor of Louisville, Book Club Pick for the Louisville Free Public Library
GodPretty In The Tobacco Field
"A great piece of work." - NPR, WFPL Radio
Longlisted for the 2017 SIBA Southern Book Prize
"Filled with the music of Appalachia, the wrath-of-God discipline of a sinner trying to keep a youngster on the straight and narrow, and the bred-in-the-bone dignity of a downtrodden community so secluded that its barefoot children don’t even realize they’re considered “poor,” GodPretty in the Tobacco Fields, a memorable story of secrets and scandal, reckoning and redemption, is fine Southern fiction."- Historical Novel Society
“A powerful coming-of-age story . . . Ms. Richardson’s portrait of the neighboring families’ hopeless lives stands out as one of the book’s major achievements. That achievement includes pitch-perfect representation. This beautifully textured novel raises many challenges for its main characters to overcome and, as it comes to a close, many surprises. Saying any more would ruin it for you.” – Southern Literary Review
“Richardson’s latest contains beautifully drawn characters and honest, lyrical language. Through the author’s expressive dialogue and vivid descriptions, the textures of the rural Kentucky landscape – along with the aching emotions that come from RubyLyn, are felt. RubyLyn’s connection with Rainey is sweet, poignant, and tender. This powerful story will leave an impression on readers long after they complete it.”– RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars
“Setting is everything…The reader learns a great deal about the impact of President Johnson’s War on Poverty in rural Kentucky and, equally, about the place of women in that society in the late 60’s…Sympathetic characters whom readers will wish a happy ending.”– Booklist
"Kim Michele Richardson aptly portrays the impoverished life of the hill people with her images of the beauty yet hardship of the mountains as well as the way this particular world experienced discrimination in the sixties." - The New York Journal of Books
“Richardson’s brilliant writing made me feel as though I were transported back in time to poor parched Nameless, Kentucky and actually there witnessing this poignant heartfelt story. To be able to do that to a reader is a sign of a truly gifted novelist.”— Charles Belfoure, NYT Bestselling author of The Paris Architect
“A voice rich and authentic, steeped in the somber beauty that defines life in the South. Richardson knows this place well, and GodPretty sings of that honesty.” — David Joy, Where All Light Tends To Go
"A reader always recognizes when the author has poured her soul into a body of work. "GodPretty in the Tobacco Field" is a tender, beautifully written second novel."-- Ann Hite