Sunday, February 17, 2019

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is a historical novel set in 1936 Appalachia. Author Kim Michele Richardson has a deft touch with characterization and and description. The time period and settings really shine through. This is a book based around real historical events and people. The New Deal traveling library project was designed to bring books and literacy to the most remote areas of Appalachia.

Due out 7th May 2019 on Sourcebook's Landmark imprint, it's 320 pages and available in hardback, paperback, ebook, and audioCD formats.

Reading and literacy have played such a fundamental role for me that I cannot imagine the path of my life without free access to reading material from infancy. My parents were teachers/engineers who were both lifelong readers.  My mother was a librarian.  I grew up in a state (WV) which, then and now, is consistently in the bottom group as regards education and literacy.  For some reason, the love of reading and books was instilled in me at a very young age.  I cannot imagine living in a world where books weren't readily available and the majority couldn't read and furthermore saw reading as undesirable or outright dangerous.

I personally found the book quite distressing to read in a number of places.  The bald racism and brutal language as well as the sexism and misogyny (and actual violence without any real repercussions for the 'bad guys'), while certainly historically accurate, was painful to read.The book itself is very well written and plotted. It was just so jarring to read the violent interludes.  There are descriptions of coerced sex, threatened sexual assault, racism, misogyny, the 'n' word (as well as 'colored'), and physical assault and violence throughout the book.

I don't think the brutality of the book detracts from the essential message; beauty and literacy are vital forces for good and change can happen.

For readers with thicker skin than mine, I'm sure this book would be a 5 star reading experience. I've absolutely no doubt it'll be (or already is) optioned for a high budget Hollywood film.  For me, the detractions brought the overall enjoyment down to about 3,5 stars. Rounding up because the writing is superlative.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes

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