From Harper Collins Canada: "In 1936, Bluet is the last of the Kentucky Blues. In the dusty Appalachian hills of Troublesome Creek, nineteen and blue-skinned, Bluet has used up her last chance for “respectability” and a marriage bed. Instead, she joins the historical Pack Horse Library Project of Kentucky and becomes a librarian, riding up treacherous mountains on a mule to deliver books and other reading material to the poor hill communities of Eastern Kentucky.
Along her dangerous route, Bluet confronts many who are distrustful of her blue skin. Not everyone is so keen on Bluet’s family or the Library Project, and the impoverished Kentuckians are quick to blame a Blue for any trouble in their small town.
Inspired by the true and historical blue-skinned people of Kentucky and the dedicated Kentucky Pack Horse Library Project, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek provides an authentic Appalachian voice to a story of hope, heartbreak and raw courage and shows one woman’s strength, despite it all, to push beyond the dark woods of Troublesome Creek."
eBooks can be found from a number of sources, including the following (please note some versions are free, but many are for purchase):
-Regina Public Library (eBook options currently available): https://www.reginalibrary.ca/
Zoom information will be provided closer to the planned meeting: 12:00pm-1:00pm, January 20, 2021.
Questions for the meeting will be chosen from these discussion points (and similar):
From Kim Michele Richardson's Website:
Reading Group Guide Document (below questions included in document)
1. The Kentucky Pack Horse program was implemented in 1935 by the Works Project Administration (WPA) to create women’s work programs and to assist economic recovery and build literacy. Looking at the novel, how did the program affect the people in this remote area? Do you think library programs are still a vital part of our society today?
2. How has a librarian or booklover impacted your life? Have you ever connected with a book or author in a meaningful way? Explain.
3. Missionaries, government, social workers, and various religious groups have always visited eastern Kentucky to reform, modernize, and mold hillfolk to their acceptable standards. Do you think Cussy faced this kind of prejudice from the outside world? Is there any prejudice or stigma associated with the people of Appalachia today?
4. How do you think Cussy’s father feels after he marries her off to an abusive man? Why do you think he agrees to Charlie Frazier’s proposal in the first place? What do you imagine life was like for an unwed woman at that time?
5. Imagine you were making a community scrapbook like the ones Cussy distributes to the people of Troublesome. What would you include? Do you think these materials were helpful to Cussy’s library patrons?
6. When Cussy receives the cure for her blueness from Doc, she realizes there’s a price to pay for her white skin and the side effects soon become too much to handle. If you were in Cussy’s shoes, would you sacrifice your health for a chance at “normalcy”? If there weren’t any side effects, do you think Cussy would have continued to take the medication? Would you?
7. How do you think Cussy feels when she is ostracized at the Independence Day celebration, despite her change of skin color? Can you relate to her feelings of isolation? Do you think there are still these kind of racial prejudices prevalent today?
8. Cussy has to deal with the loss of many loved ones in a very short amount of time. How do you think she handles her grief ? Which loss was the most difficult for you to read?
9. What do you think life was like for the people of Troublesome? What are some of the highlights of living in such a remote place? What are some of the challenges the people on Cussy’s library route face?
10. Back then, entering into a prohibited or interracial marriage in Kentucky was a misdemeanor that could result in incarceration, and we see these racial tensions attempt to sever Cussy and Jackson’s relationship. Discuss anti-miscegenation laws and marriage laws. Do you think this kind of prejudice still exists toward interracial couples?
11. What do you think happens to Cussy, Jackson, Honey, and the other inhabitants of Troublesome after the story ends? Imagine you were Cussy. How would you feel leaving Troublesome for good?