If I had a word for this week it would be resilience. The author of this month’s book definitely had resilience. Valarie Kaur, Maya Angelou, Audrey Assad and even you and I have resilience! Resilience seems to be the theme flowing through everything I read and listened to this week. Resilience is what will help us flourish despite our ACES scores. I hope you are blessed with lots of resilience!
Whenever I read a good book, I’m interested in the author. Where did they grow up? What inspired them to write this story? Is it true or fiction? Where did this character come from?
Kim Michele Richardson
The author of The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is Kim Michele Richardson. She grew up in Kentucky and wrote a childhood memoir titled, The Unbreakable Child: A Story About Forgiving the Unforgivable.
Kim’s memoir chronicles her hellish experience growing up in a Catholic orphanage as a ward of the state in Kentucky. It includes how she found the courage as an adult to sue the state of Kentucky on behalf of herself, her sisters and other people abused by that system as children. Kim is a true survivor who documented her childhood trauma, then moved on to make a career as a novelist.
When an author highlights obscure facts with a heartwarming story, it changes the way we see the world and changes lives. Richardson has done this with “Book Woman.” She has also written several other novels which I’m eager to read.
She is also suspicious that Jojo Moyes might have plagiarized part of her story. There is no lawsuit to date and probably won’t be because plagiarization is hard to prove. I wrote a little article about the two books’ similarities and possibly plagiarizing here.
About The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek
This has to be one of the most beautiful stories I’ve read for a long time.
Cussy Mary is named for a town in France where her grandfather came from. She believes she is the last of her kind in a long line of the “Blue People of Kentucky.” Her parents were blue and she has no idea of life outside of Kentucky but she doesn’t know anyone else who looks like her. While this makes her unique, it also makes her lonely.
This book is an inspiration for anyone who has ever felt they were singled out, marginalized, and alone. In the first chapter, we learn of her mother’s death and her father’s promise to marry Cussy off. Her father, who is an ailing miner, wants to get her “settled” so she won’t be left with nothing to live on once he dies.
Poor Cussy finds her father’s potential suiters unsuitable in her mind. Plus, she doesn’t want to get married because she loves her new job as a packhorse librarian. Her marriage ends up a disaster, but the good news is her aging husband dies while abusing her.
The old man leaves her a broken-down mule which her father calls a miner’s sacrifice. Cussy doesn’t want the poor creature to be sent into the mine only to be killed in an explosion even if it might save some men’s lives. She insists on rehabilitating the animal and uses it for her librarian route.
The people that Cussy meets along the way all have their own struggles. Through their hunger pains, prejudices, and resilience, we begin to understand how rough life was for the people of rural Kentucky in the 1930’s. These characters draw us into Cussy’s story because she loves them and they adore her.
The backdrop of the story included the plot of miners organizing a union to fight an unjust working situation. Cussy’s father continues to risk his life to build the union in secret meetings because he knows he won’t last long but wants to make the world better for Cussy and others. One of the most heartbreaking moments was when her father is killed as the result of a mine collapse. When the men tell Cussy, “We couldn’t reach him.” The reader gets the feeling that her beloved father was used as a miner’s sacrifice.
Cussy’s story includes joy despite ignorances, death and hunger pains. There is a young man who helped to build the Hoover Dam who has come home to Kentuck to build a homestead. He seems to be charmed by Cussy but she is barely aware of his affections because she is used to not being loved due to her color.
Blues are rejected by nearly everyone—they don’t fit in with the white or the black people around them. One packhorse librarian is a black woman from the North who is was well educated by her father who was a teacher. She befriends Cussy.
Without spoiling the entire story for those who have not read this book, it’s fair to say that Cussy comes into her own. The doctor who delivered her takes her into the city where she is given tests and later a pill that takes away her blue color. While this turns her skin white, it makes her throw up and doesn’t begin to resolve all of her problems. Will the man she likes, love her whether she is blue or white?
There will be a wedding in this book and a baby, but not the way you might expect it to happen. Also, since the Jim Crow laws apply to blue Cussy, how can her romance with a white man ever come to fruition?
In a world where we still fight hunger, prejudice, and unjust labor practices,
The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is a timely, beautiful story about resilience and survival.
What’s On Your Mind?
I can’t stop thinking about a video I watched this week by modern-day Shero, Valarie Kaur who spoke about her trip to the Mexican border. She has just written a new book titled, See No Stranger, A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love.
Kaur’s TED Talk is worth watching too! I love her famous words for going through dark times—
When we think about all the pain in this world, it can get overwhelming, but we only have to love one person at a time. I found this tweet with words from Maya Angelou inspiring—
If you, like me, are in the middle of a storm, here’s a comforting song by Audrey Assad. Her voice is like soothing lotion to dry skin! I’ve been listening to her all day while I paint a picture. If all else fails, put on some good music and make art, friends!
Here are some rocks I painted for fun last week. I wrote on the bottom of the green one, “God sees the sparrow.” I hope the friend I gave it to finds a good place to place it to encourage someone.
As an indie author, it’s my job to promote Chasing Eden and that includes creating pictures of the book. I’ll be forever grateful to the artist, Emmalee Shallenberger of EmmaleeDesigns. She’s also the artist for my next book. I can’t wait to reveal it to you as we get closer to the finish!
Here are a few articles I’ve written this month—
How Xenophobia Could Be Destroying Our Nation And We Need to Stop Being Afraid of People Who Don’t Look Like Us
I hope you have a great week!
The comments are open on these posts so if you have any book comments or even a book you’d like to share or if you find Valarie Kaur inspirational too, please feel free to share!