I know I have read a book worth reading when I’m still thinking about parts of it, several weeks and three books later.
Yes, I am way behind on my book postings again.
This is an excellent choice for an audiobook (courtesy of the WONDERFUL ) Libby library service. A good reader and appropriate accents add a layer to the pleasure!
First of all, it’s a good story, well told with a plucky heroine.
The book takes place during The Depression Era, in isolated spots in Kentucky but in many ways, this book could easily serve as a discussion for current affairs in the U.S.A.
The main character, an admirable young woman named Mary, is known as “Blue” because of a rare condition which causes her skin to be literally blue. This is true also of her parents and her “kin”, though precious few have remained alive in this impoverished place where life is harsh and racism is rampant. Being different can be a life-threatening condition.
Mary works as a “Packhorse Librarian”, traveling long distances every day to bring reading material to people who live in extremely remote places. Not only remote, but some also live entirely off-the-grid. She actually traveled with a mule, not a horse, which is better suited to the difficult terrain. The parts I liked best were Mary’s (called Bookwoman by her patrons) conversations with people who were deeply suspicious of “book learning” – how she coaxed them to try and see for themselves how the information contained in them just might enrich their lives, perhaps even improve it. Sadly, it seems that the importance of a good education today needs defending among some people today.
The roving librarian job was just one of the jobs created as part of the government “New Deal” plans to help put food on people’s plates. Starvation was no figure of speech in that area – there were families counting the number of their children who died due to starvation (not to mention the stillborn children). Nonetheless, some preferred to accept their offspring’s deaths rather than cooperate with an interfering government who was offering a salary…
The author did leave me wondering what was the fate of the planned miner’s strikes. At the beginning of the book, there was much talk about the danger of attending a union meeting and the terrible working conditions (and short lives ) of the miners. But after the miner character passes away, we don’t follow that storyline anymore.
While I can be a bit “ornery” (to use a phrase from the book) and am perfectly able to criticize some things about the book, I am certainly glad I read it and recommend it too!