Summary and book reviews of If the Creek Don't Rise by Leah Weiss

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
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    Aug 2017, 320 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Sarah Tomp
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About this Book

Book Summary

With a colorful cast of characters that each contribute a new perspective, If The Creek Don't Rise is a debut novel bursting with heart, honesty, and homegrown grit.

He's gonna be sorry he ever messed with me and Loretta Lynn

Sadie Blue has been a wife for fifteen days. That's long enough to know she should have never hitched herself to Roy Tupkin, even with the baby.

Sadie is desperate to make her own mark on the world, but in remote Appalachia, a ticket out of town is hard to come by, and hope often gets stomped out.  When a stranger sweeps into Baines Creek and knocks things off kilter, Sadie finds herself with an unexpected lifeline...if she can just figure out how to use it.

This intimate insight into a fiercely proud, tenacious community unfolds through the voices of the forgotten folks of Baines Creek.

Sadie Blue

I struggle to my feet, straighten my back, lift my chin, then he hits me again. This time I fall down and stay down while he counts, "…eight, nine, ten." He walks out the trailer door and slams it hard. The latch don't catch, and the door pops open. I lay on the floor and watch Roy Tupkin cross the dirt yard and disappear into the woods.

My world's gone sideways again.

"Sadie girl." Daddy's spirit voice comes soft from behind my open eyes. "You got yourself in a pickle this time. No two ways about it. That husband of yours won't stop till you and your baby draw your last breath. You don't even look like yourself no more. He broke bout every piece of sweet in you. You gonna let him break your spirit, too? You gonna do nothing?"

I'm tired, Daddy. Wore out. Roy Tupkin don't just beat me, he beats me down. Let me rest a spell. I don't know if I can lift my head just yet.

Now Daddy's voice comes from the yard where a lone wind...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. Life in 1970 Appalachia (and fictional Baines Creek) was undeniably hard and harsh. What did the novel tell you about that historic time and place that you expected? What did you learn that surprised you?
  2. Sadie Blue was the principal character in the book, with her story told in three chapters. Did you root for her from the start? What were her key moments of growth? Who were her mentors and supporters? What did they do that helped her grow a stronger backbone?
  3. In what ways were Sadie Blue and her grandmother, Gladys Hicks, and Sadie and her mother, Carly, alike? In what ways were they different?
  4. Gladys and Marris were best friends. Who needed the other the most? Who gave the greatest purpose to their relationship?
  5. ...
Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

Here are some of the comments posted about If the Creek Don't Rise.
You can see the full discussion here.


A number of murders were committed in the book. Do you think any of them were justified? If so, which ones and why?
Is murder ever justified???? - taking.mytime

As a debut novel, how does this compare to others?
I enjoyed this novel. I liked the way it was structured. I could empathize with some of the characters, dislike some of them and relate to some of the issues and instances. I don't think this novel reads like a debut novel. I think the Appalachians ... - taking.mytime

Did you find any reasons to empathize with Prudence, Roy and Billy? What were the pivotal moments in their past that shaped their personalities? How do you think you would have fared if you were born into their families and stations of life?
I don't think that this characterization was too far off from anyone's life. There are always people who are genuinely grumpy, selfish and feel sorry for themselves like Prudence. She let a few bad things waste her whole life - never believing that ... - taking.mytime

Did you root for Sadie Blue from the start? What were her key moments of growth? Who were her mentors and supporters? What did they do that helped her grow a stronger backbone?
Sadie had some strong role models - Kate, Eli, Marris and Birdie. Sadie was the underdog - the abused one - the innocent one in the story. Hoping she found a better life was just instinctual. Key moments of growth were her marriage to Roy - not a... - taking.mytime

Did you think Gladys was oblivious to her mean behavior? Why did she feel entitled to that mean behavior? How do you think she would have described herself?
I believe that Gladys needed to express her meanness. Like many others she was beaten down and very unhappy. She knew it and knew she was mean, however she saw no outlet for change. She was controlling and used that control on people especially ... - taking.mytime

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

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Appalachian life is foreign even to most Americans. In many ways, it's easy to think the people of these mountains don't have much in common with the rest of the country. I worry that the novel's conclusion might leave readers' prejudices and stereotypes intact, rather than creating an appreciation and respect for a different pace of life while seeing commonalities in our humanity. That being said, the novel's clear and evocative prose ultimately creates a portrait of a town both beautiful and harsh. If the Creek Don't Rise transports readers to a specific time and place where they can spend time with a variety of characters...continued

Full Review (609 words).

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(Reviewed by Sarah Tomp).

Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly
[A] tender but powerful debut...highlighting Weiss's considerable characterization skills.

Kirkus Reviews
Weiss' tale is a beguiling, compelling read.

Booklist
Starred Review. The author's masterful use of language, including dialect unique to the area, builds another layer of connection between these characters while she develops a greater sense of inner isolation and distance from those outside the community

Library Journal
Starred Review. Writing with a deep knowledge of the enduring myths of Appalachia, Weiss vividly portrays real people and sorrows. A strong, formidable novel for readers of William Faulkner and Cormac McCarthy.

Author Blurb Kathleen Grissom, author of the New York Times bestsellers The Kitchen House and Glory Over Everything
This one nearly broke my heart. With deeply human characters I will not easily forget, Weiss captures the fierce pull of desperation and the formidable power of hope.  An impressive debut from a talent to watch.

Author Blurb Erika Marks, author of The Last Treasure
Every page of Leah Weiss' debut, If the Creek Don't Rise, has a pulse as fierce and unyielding as its Appalachian setting. Told through an ensemble of narrators, men and women of all ages bound by the inescapable power of place and belonging, it is a lush exploration of the darkest rooms in the human heart, and the brightest fires of the human spirit. Weiss' remarkable gift for language left me breathless, and her characters, distinctive and unapologetically-human, will haunt me for some time.

Reader Reviews

Annalisa Damley

An Appalachian Tale
“If the creek don't rise," debut novel by Leah Weiss, is a treasure. Set in an environment of extremes-wretched poverty amidst the majesty of the NC mountains, its inhabitants scratch out a living in primitive 1970 Appalachia. The book is ...   Read More
Tired Bookreader

Not to be Missed
It's rare that a book grabs you from the first sentence; and yet, that is exactly what happened. The people, the environment, the fear, the hate, the anger, the struggles...all of this made for a book that a person could not wait to keep reading. ...   Read More
Janet S

Great Appalachian Novel
Wow! this novel grabbed me quickly. I liked how the author introduced/got me into the heads of several folks in the town of Baines Creek. Great technique! At times I laughed and then cried while reading the book. Throughout the novel I was ...   Read More
jill

Sometimes you make your own happy ending
Tucked in to the Appalachian Mountains, the people of Baines Creek live a hard luck, hard scrabble life. Tied together by tradition, misfortune, and a distrust of outsiders they make their way by whatever means necessary. A product of that ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Moonshine Mania

In If the Creek Don't Rise, Sadie Blue's husband earns his money making and selling moonshine. The trouble caused by alcohol and illegal business is a theme that runs throughout the story. The term moonshine comes from the illicit nature in which it has historically been brewed, in the dark, under cover of "moon shine." Moonshine has made a recent reappearance in public culture. Here are ten things you may not know about the infamous libation.

  1. It won't make you go blind

    Moonshine could get you blind drunk, but it should be a temporary affliction. Poorly made moonshine is another story. It's not the strength of the alcohol that's the problem, it's the methanol, a natural byproduct of the fermentation process. Methanol has a lower ...

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