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.

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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. 


"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

“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!

“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. [T]his well-researched tale serves as a solid history lesson on 1930s Kentucky.” -Kirkus

A unique story about Appalachia and the healing power of the written word.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. Cussy Mary is an indomitable and valiant heroine, and through her true-blue eyes, 1930s Kentucky comes to vivid and often harrowing life. Richardson's dialogue is note-perfect; Cussy Mary's voice is still ringing in my head, and the sometimes dark story she tells highlights such gorgeous, glowing grace notes that I was often moved to hopeful tears.” -Joshilyn Jackson NYT bestselling author of The Almost Sisters and gods in Alabama first in litera

    To Purchase

Books available in brick and mortar stores and online

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When you preorder from City Lights in Sylva, NC, you can have the book signed and/or inscribed. They also happily ship