“A timeless and significant tale about poverty, intolerance and how books can bring hope and light to even the darkest pocket of history.”
NO MAJOR SPOILERS
I loved this fascinating slice of historical fiction set in depression era Kentucky. It cleverly combines the stories of the Pack Horse Library project with that of the “blue people” known to have lived in the area at that time. Although the history behind the story is real, the story itself is a work of fiction, and I recommend that readers check out the author’s notes at the end for more information.
Cussy Carter is 19, and the last of her family of blue skinned folk. Her miner father is determined to marry her off, but this is a difficult prospect as the local people look down on her blue skin, treating her as ” colored” at a time when bigotry and ignorance was rampant.
Cussy does not want to marry, especially since it would mean giving up her beloved job as a mobile librarian. She truly loves bringing the joy of books and reading to the poorest of people living in the most remote parts of the mountain, but will have to give it all up if she marries. As if that was not enough, a local preacher seems determined to bring her to his version of God by any means necessary, including violence if that is what it takes.
This book is beautiful, heartbreaking and emotional and I could not put it down. The bleakness, wild beauty and poverty of the time and place is vividly brought to life on the page, but so too is the strength and determination of Cussy in her mission to bring comfort and joy to those who have nothing, and to take them away from the harshness of their daily reality for even a brief moment.
I had never heard of the Blue People of Kentucky before reading this book, but I found their story fascinating, and I loved that the author had given a voice to this unfortunate group.
Added 18th October 2019