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Reviews of The Book Woman's Daughter by Kim Michele Richardson

The Book Woman's Daughter

A Novel

by Kim Michele Richardson

The Book Woman's Daughter by Kim Michele Richardson X
The Book Woman's Daughter by Kim Michele Richardson
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  • Paperback:
    May 2022, 320 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs
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About this Book

Book Summary

Honey Lovett, the daughter of the beloved Troublesome book woman, who must fight for her own independence with the help of the women who guide her and the books that set her free.

In the ruggedness of the beautiful Kentucky mountains, Honey Lovett has always known that the old ways can make a hard life harder. As the daughter of the famed blue-skinned, Troublesome Creek packhorse librarian, Honey and her family have been hiding from the law all her life. But when her mother and father are imprisoned, Honey realizes she must fight to stay free, or risk being sent away for good.

Picking up her mother's old packhorse library route, Honey begins to deliver books to the remote hollers of Appalachia. Honey is looking to prove that she doesn't need anyone telling her how to survive. But the route can be treacherous, and some folks aren't as keen to let a woman pave her own way.

If Honey wants to bring the freedom books provide to the families who need it most, she's going to have to fight for her place, and along the way, learn that the extraordinary women who run the hills and hollers can make all the difference in the world.

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek was a BookBrowse Top 10 Book Club Favorite in both 2020 and 2021.


They still call her Book Woman, having long forgotten the epithet for her cobalt-blue flesh, though she's gone now from these hills and hollers, from her loving husband and daughter and endearing Junia, her patrons and their heartaches and yearnings for more. But you must know another story, really all the other important stories that swirled around and after her, before they are lost to winters of rotting foliage and sleeping trees, swallowed into the spring hymnals of birdsong rising above carpets of phlox, snakeroot, and foxglove. These stories beg to be unspooled from Kentucky's hardened old hands, to be bound and eternally rooted like the poplar and oak to the everlasting land.

Thousandsticks, Kentucky 1953

The bitter howls of winter, uncertainty, and a soon-to-be forgotten war rolled over the sleepy, dark hills of Thousandsticks, Kentucky, in early March, leaving behind an angry ache of despair. And though we'd practiced my escape many times, it still felt ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide will contain spoilers!
  1. Discuss the types of circumstances in which a child, or parent, would ask for a Declaration of Emancipation. Thinking about emancipation and the LeAnn Rimes/Britney Spears issues where the child is earning huge dollars that the parent "manager" is squandering or keeping from the child improperly, what should be put in place to prevent this?
  2. Children, especially rural children, were a valuable commodity to families who needed farm labor without having to pay wages. Society continues to be mostly patriarchal, and during the time in which this novel was set, it was the father who could "express" emancipation and consent to his child's emancipation. Discuss patriarchal laws and the role they have played, and continue to play, in shaping ...
Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

Here are some of the comments posted about The Book Woman's Daughter.
You can see the full discussion here.

Did you like or identify with any of Honey's patrons in particular? What do you think that character's future holds?
I could identify with Bonnie in particular. Strong, driven, head of a one parent household, force to endure men trying to hold her in check. Her future was bright even tho she endured some strong knocks from time to time. She was fearless and had a ... - taking.mytime

Did you read The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek; if so, how do they compare?
I believe I liked the Troublesome Creek book best. It was the original book. This last book was good, but I believe the first was a bit better. This second book seemed to be, to me, more wordy - a couple places in the book I was saying - 'ok - ... - taking.mytime

Do you know what anti-miscegenation laws your state passed and when they were abolished? What do you believe the history of these laws can tell us about race and marriage in America, both then and now?
I did a search for Kansas miscegenation laws and could not find anything, but am not sure that is accurate. What I did find that the Kansas legislature seemed more focused on education and segregation. The Brown vs the Board of Education National ... - BuffaloGirl

Does prison labor for children still exist like the historical House of Reform in Kentucky? Do children have to work in juvenile facilities as they once did? Should they have to?
I think that is state regulated. It seems that not long ago a boys camp or reform school was shut down for mistreating their charges. Over working them. Too many private institutions like that still exist. There is a local 'Ranch' in my ... - taking.mytime

Had you heard of methemoglobinemia or the Blue People of Kentucky before?
Yes. I mentioned that I had traveled a lot as a child - my dad was an iron worker and we traveled for his work. Often we stayed in some pretty poor places since it would only be a week or two at a time. We stayed in some back woods areas of Kentucky ... - taking.mytime

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BookBrowse Review


Richardson's conveyance of time and place is exemplary, and her descriptions of the beauty and remoteness of Kentucky's hollers almost make them characters in their own right. She's also skilled at painting a complete picture of what life there may have been like — a life that could be grim at times. She fully captures her subjects' prejudices and superstitions, their fears and their loves, and their generous spirits; indeed, these three-dimensional portraits of her characters are perhaps the narrative's highlight...continued

Full Review (647 words)

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(Reviewed by Kim Kovacs).

Media Reviews

Kim Michele Richardson's companion novel to The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is immersive from the very beginning...It's a spellbinding tale.

The Book Woman's Daughter combines themes of sisterhood and justice with vivid depictions of the Kentucky landscape, making it a good choice for book groups and readers of historical women's fiction.

Publishers Weekly
Though the story of Honey's struggle for freedom is a bit formulaic, Richardson excels in her descriptions of the people and places of rural Kentucky. Fans will be delighted to find Cussy's daughter is just as plucky as her mother.

Author Blurb Abbott Kahler, New York Times bestselling author (as Karen Abbott) of The Ghosts of Eden Park
Fierce, beautiful and inspirational, Kim Michele Richardson has created a powerful tale about brave extraordinary heroines who are downright haunting and unforgettable.

Author Blurb Ron Rash, New York Times bestselling author of One Foot in Eden and Serena
A mesmerizing and beautifully rendered Appalachian tale of strong women, bravery, and resilience, told through the eyes of a new heroine reminiscent of Harper Lee's own Scout Finch.

Author Blurb Sara Gruen, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Water for Elephants
In Kim Michele Richardson's beautifully and authentically rendered The Book Woman's Daughter she once again paints a stunning portrait of the raw, somber beauty of Appalachia, the strong resolve of remarkable women living in a world dominated by men, and the power of books and sisterhood to prevail in the harshest circumstances. A critical and profoundly important read for our time. Badassery womanhood at its best!

Author Blurb William Kent Krueger, New York Times bestselling author of This Tender Land and Lightning Strike
Steeped in an intimate knowledge of the traditions and lore of the region and written with a loving eye to the natural beauty of the landscape, The Book Woman's Daughter is a brilliant and compelling narrative - a powerful portrait of the courageous women who fought against ignorance, misogyny, and racial prejudice.

Reader Reviews


Resonated with Me
I have a personal rating system I call the 4Es. Does the book engage my interest, educate and/or enlighten me, entertain me, and reach me emotionally? Very few books hit all four components. The Book Woman's Daughter did in spades. The characters ...   Read More

An Excellent Story
After reading The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson, I could not recommend the book to enough people. I chose it for two book clubs to which I belong. Everyone I know who has read the book has thoroughly enjoyed it, learned ...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Moonlight Schools

A black-and-white photo of a group of students at a Moonlight School in Kentucky At one point in Kim Michele Richardson's novel The Book Woman's Daughter, protagonist Honey Lovett discovers that a family friend attended a Moonlight School. The Moonlight Schools were the brainchild of Cora Wilson Stewart (1875-1958), an elementary school teacher and school superintendent in Rowan County, Kentucky. Born in the community of Farmers, Kentucky, she attended the Morehead Normal School (the term "normal school," derived from the French "école normale," referred to a teacher-training college), later known as Morehead State University, and the University of Kentucky before beginning her teaching career at the age of 20.

Stewart quickly discovered that the parents of many of her students were illiterate, and she ...

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