Excerpt from If the Creek Don't Rise by Leah Weiss, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Discuss |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

If the Creek Don't Rise

by Leah Weiss

If the Creek Don't Rise by Leah Weiss X
If the Creek Don't Rise by Leah Weiss
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Paperback:
    Aug 2017, 320 pages


  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Sarah Tomp
Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

"It'll start a purty day, but a big rain's coming," she says, like I give a damn.

My anger spikes. "Why you do that?"

"Do what?" Marris asks, all innocent-like, and sips the weak coffee. She holds it with both hands with joints as gnarled and swoll with arthuritis as mine.

"Say your name every time you walk in." I imitate her high voice for spite—" It's Marris"—and watch her face fall. Then I add, "Like I don't know it's you coming through the door. How many times you been here? A thousand times? Ten thousand? I know who you is, for God's sake."

"I don't count the times." Her voice loses its lightness. "Don't wanna surprise you, that's all."

Her tone turns downright dull. I'm disappointed at the easy victory. Some days, Marris fights harder to keep her sunshine. Today won't one of em.


Marris is second cousin by marriage on Walter's side. Since she was a girl, she's lived down the road, around the bend in a two-room house with a dirt floor she sweeps every day to clear out cobwebs. Marris used to have hair as red as coals cooked down in a fire. Walter would say in a rare time he was being funny, "You stick dough in hair that red, it woulda baked into a biscuit." Now it's gone to ash.

Not a thing's wrong with Marris cept most days she's more happy than a body has a right to be. Regular folks buckle under the piss and vinegar in this world. Not Marris. Her perky words irk me something fierce. Always have. Always will. I stand and pour myself a cup of coffee now that it's ready, then sit again.

"Since you brought them huckleberries and you standing there staring at the wall, why don't you fix a pie?" I throw at her, and the woman goes to work.

She sifts flour, cuts in lard, and adds spring water. She rolls out the pastry for the pie tin, adds the berries, sprinkles sugar on top, and is done lickety-split. While the pie bakes, she washes the bowl, the spoon, and her coffee cup and puts em away. Silence crowds the room. She hangs the apron on the nail, picks up her berry basket, and looks at me for the first time in fifteen minutes.

"Gladys," she asks, "why you boss me round like that and be so hurtful?"

She leaves before I answer and catches the screen door so it don't slam.

I stand and clutch the edge of the sink and look out the window at the garden that struggles in weak sunlight and sorry soil. The plot's gone to seed cause I don't bend the way I used to. My back and legs fail me most days. Few souls ever cross my threshold cept Marris…and she don't count cause of the aggravating she brings. Most of the time she don't even tell me gossip to lift my situation. What's a body to do when she can't care for herself no more and her house falls down? Just up and die?

When it's cooked, I pull the pie from the heat and set it on the window ledge to cool. Dern if she didn't put a four-leaf clover on top to throw the Scots Irish at me. I don't smile. No, sir. Life's too shitty. For a old woman, it's more shit than I can shovel.

I can't remember if I ever had a choice but to put one foot in front of the other and walk the line on a rocky road to nowhere. I pour more coffee, pick up a fork, and stab the heart of the clover. The first bite burns my tongue.


Marris was right. The rain comes late afternoon and settles in. The walls of the house get damp and stay damp, and shadows hunker down in corners and hide at the top of landings out of reach of light. I don't believe in ghosts, but they still come round and mess with me. Footsteps fade. Doors open and close. There's scratching in the walls.

I sip from my hooch that night and hope like a fool for a peaceful rest. Rain drums hard, and kitchen pots sit on the floor to catch leaks. Mad lightning and thunder howl through the holler, and branches lick the sides of the house. When I go to the bedroom, I throw a extra quilt on the bed to ward off the damp. There's no easy rest for the weary. I lay in my bed waiting for sleep when a raw memory comes calling instead.


"Woman, you got a lesson coming."

Excerpted from If the Creek Don't Rise by Leah Weiss. Copyright © 2017 by Leah Weiss. Excerpted by permission of Sourcebooks. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $39 for 12 months or $12 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  Moonshine Mania

Join BookBrowse

and discover exceptional books
for just $3.25 per month.

Find out more

Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: We Had to Remove This Post
    We Had to Remove This Post
    by Hanna Bervoets
    It's not about money. Kayleigh, the protagonist and narrator of We Had to Remove This Post, a newly ...
  • Book Jacket: River of the Gods
    River of the Gods
    by Candice Millard
    The Nile River has provided vital resources for millennia, serving as a source of water, food and ...
  • Book Jacket: Horse
    by Geraldine Brooks
    Geraldine Brooks creates a powerful backstory for 19th-century thoroughbred racehorse Lexington, ...
  • Book Jacket: Notes on Your Sudden Disappearance
    Notes on Your Sudden Disappearance
    by Alison Espach
    Notes on Your Sudden Disappearance will make you ache for a loss you didn't experience as you relate...

Book Club Discussion

Book Jacket
Carolina Moonset
by Matt Goldman
An engrossing novel about family, memories and secrets too dangerous to stay hidden.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Good Husbands
    by Cate Ray

    Three wives, one letter, and an explosive secret that will change everything.
    He said, she said. Who do you believe?

  • Book Jacket

    Fruiting Bodies
    by Kathryn Harlan

    A genre-bending debut collection of stories full of desire, wisdom, and magic blooming amidst decay.

Win This Book!
Win Where the Crawdads Sing

Win a signed copy of Where the Crawdads Sing

In celebration of the movie release on July 15, we have three signed copies to give away.



Solve this clue:

T O Thing W H T F I F I

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.