Today’s Ultimate Blogging Challenge prompt is to review a book or a movie. The book that I am reviewing is a book that I am currently reading, called The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, by Kim Michele Richardson.
This book is set in Kentucky during the mid-1930s. It is the story of Cussy Mary Carter, who was a packhorse librarian in the hills of Kentucky. The packhorse librarian program was part of the Works Progress Administration, an American New Deal agency to provide jobs to unemployed people.
Cussy Mary faces many challenges as a packhorse librarian, including prejudice based on her physical appearance, as well as the physical dangers of navigating steep mountain trails while riding her mule. She has a hereditary condition that causes her skin to be blue. Because of the unusual color of her skin, she faces prejudice and even hostility. At one point, she even becomes a lab rat for a doctor, who claims that he can cure her of her strange coloring.
Cussy Mary is a witness to a high level of poverty and illiteracy amongst the people who live high in the mountains. For many, she is a source of hope. Too far from libraries or schools, many of the people never learned to read. Despite Cussy Mary’s busy work schedule, she always finds the time to read to people who say that they have something in their eye and they can’t see the words on the page. She knew that they did not know how to read, as the illiteracy rates were high.
Cussy Mary brought recipes to women and stories to children and magazines to men. She brought scrapbooks, full of information and pictures, to people living high in the mountains. These were scrapbooks that she spent her days off compiling.
Cussy Mary is a fictional person who represents one of 1,000 women who was hired during the Great Depression to bring books and other reading matter to the remote areas of Kentucky. On horse back or mule back, the women brought the library to the customers.
Books offer people an opportunity to experience lives far different from their own. And that’s exactly what The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is doing for me. It is giving me a glimpse into a successful program that truly demonstrated the power of reading, as well as a region and a way of life that I have never known.
If you are looking for something to read, I would recommend The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, by Kim Michele Richardson.