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 In 1936, tucked deep into the woods of Troublesome Creek, KY,  blue-skinned 19-year-old Cussy Mary Carter is the last living female of the rare Blue People ancestry. The lonely young Appalachian woman joins the historical Pack Horse Library Project of Kentucky and becomes a librarian, riding across creek beds and up treacherous mountains on her faithful mule to deliver books and other reading material to the impoverished hill people of Eastern Kentucky.

Along her dangerous route, Cussy, known to the mountain folk as Bluet, confronts those suspicious of her damselfly-blue skin and the government's new book program. She befriends hardscrabble and complex fellow Kentuckians, and is fiercely determined to bring comfort and joy, instill literacy, and give to those who have nothing, a bookly respite, a fleeting retreat to faraway lands.

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is a powerful message about how the written word affects people--a story of hope and heartbreak, raw courage and strength splintered with poverty and oppression, and one woman's chances beyond the darkly hollows.

Inspired by the true and historical blue-skinned people of Kentucky and the brave and dedicated Kentucky Pack Horse library service, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek showcases a first in literary novels— a bold and unique story about the Kentucky Blue people and Packhorse Librarians — a tale of fierce strength and one woman's belief that books can carry us anywhere — even back home.

Atmospheric, fascinating, and an important footnote of history that should be prized and preserved, Kim Michele Richardson provides an authentic Appalachian voice in this beautifully-told tale. 

Behind the Scenes Interview with BookreportER

LOS ANGELES PUBLIC LIBRARY INTERVIEW

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“Richardson has penned an emotionally moving and fascinating story about the power of literacy over bigotry, hatred and fear.”—BookPage

“A powerful story rooted in historical fact.” -Bookreporter

“Riveting. Highly unusual — and utterly compelling.”- Toronto Star

“Set in the hollers of Depression-era Kentucky, the novel serves as a testament to the power of the written word, arguing that words can traverse barriers between class, race and individual differences. Richardson’s descriptions throughout the novel breathe life into the mountains, the books and the lives of her characters. She captures both the beauty of the mountains and the ugliness of ignorance. Despite so much tragedy, the novel bleeds hope. It serves as a wonderful reminder that our similarities can overcome our differences—and a love of reading is one of those similarities. In a time of constant polarization, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek reminds us that all is not lost.” - Deep South Magazine

“A superb personal read and I have no doubt many book clubs will enjoy this massively... So far, one of my favourite books this year!” -NB Literary Magazine UK

“Richardson, a master of phrase, cadence, and imagery, once again delivers a powerful yet heartfelt story that gives readers a privileged glimpse into an impoverished yet rigidly hierarchical society, this time by shining a light on the courageous, dedicated women who brought books and hope to those struggling to survive on its lowest rung. Strongly recommended.” -Historical Novel Society

"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." -London Free Press

Richardson’s beautiful story is one of perseverance, compassion, and self-acceptance. Through Cussy’s journey, we learn there is no struggle so worthy of our might, as the one that strives to bring joy into the lives of others.” - Due South Magazine, NC

This novel is both heartbreaking and beautifully written, historically defining education and socioeconomic struggles we continue to battle today. The profound joy and promise that books brought to these simple, good people is priceless.” - Keys Weekly Newspaper

“What Richardson has written is a novel about the best of us. And the worst. And has done so with magnificence.”-Bren McClain, Willie Morris award-winning author of One Good Mama Bone

“Readers are likely to find Ms. Richardson’s fourth novel to be one of the most original and unusual contributions they will encounter in the realm of the current literature of the American South. Ms. Richardson creates an unexpected poetry out of Cussy’s voice and speech patterns. That voice is not the only kind of unexpected beauty in this surprising novel.” - May Read of The Month Southern Literary Review

“Meticulously researched and well-written, Richardson was born to write this remarkable story of the Pack Horse Librarians”— JDC Must Read Books - Top Books of 2019!

“An impressive historical novel. Authentic, lyrical. The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is timely and necessary.” - The Post and Courier Newspaper - Charleston, South Carolina

“Kim Michele Richardson has written a fascinating novel about people almost forgotten by history: Kentucky’s  pack-horse  librarians and “blue people.” The factual information alone would make this book a treasure, but with her impressive storytelling and empathy, Richardson gives us so much more.” - Ron Rash, New York Times bestselling author of One Foot in Eden and Serena

“Richardson's latest work is a hauntingly atmospheric love letter to the first mobile library in Kentucky and the fierce, brave packhorse librarians who wove their way from shack to shack dispensing literacy, hope, and - just as importantly - a compassionate human connection. Richardson's rendering of stark poverty against the ferocity of the human spirit is irresistible. Add to this the history of the unique and oppressed blue-skinned people of Kentucky, and you've got an unputdownable work that holds real cultural significance." - Sara Gruen, #1 NYT bestselling author of Water for Elephant

“This gem of a historical from Richardson features an indomitable heroine navigating a community steeped in racial intolerance. Readers will adore the memorable Cussy and appreciate Richardson’s fine rendering of Kentucky life.”- Publishers Weekly

“A unique story about Appalachia and the healing power of the written word. This well-researched tale serves as a solid history lesson on 1930s Kentucky.” -Kirkus

“A rare literary adventure that casts librarians as heroes, smart tough women on horseback in rough terrain doing the brave and hard work of getting the right book into the right hands. Richardson has weaved an inspiring tale about the power of literature.” -Alexander Chee, author of Edinburgh and Queen of the Night

"This is Richardson's finest, as beautiful and honest as it is fierce and heart-wrenching, THE BOOK WOMAN OF TROUBLESOME CREEK explores the fascinating and unique blue-skinned people of Kentucky and the brave Packhorse librarians. A timeless and significant tale about poverty, intolerance and how books can bring hope and light to even the darkest pocket of history." - Karen Abbott, New York Times bestselling author of Liar Temptress Soldier Spy

“Emotionally resonant and unforgettable, THE BOOK WOMAN OF TROUBLESOME CREEK is a lush love letter to the redemptive power of books. ” -Joshilyn Jackson NYT bestselling author of The Almost Sisters and gods in Alabama


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"Book Woman of Troublesome Creek Song"

Words and music by Ruby Friedman, Guitar, Violin, Banjo : Ben Landsverk

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