Cussy Mary is a young 20 year old woman living in the poverty stricken part of the Appalachian outside of Troublesome Creek. Nicknamed Bluet by the local doctor after her blue skin, Cussy works as one of the Packhorse Librarians under the Packhorse Library Project started by President Roosevelt. Cussy is passionate about her job, facing treacherous mountain conditions to get any reading material she can to her patrons up in the hills, even putting together reading scrapbooks from any articles and materials she can find. It holds a special place in her heart as her mother, who passed away when Cussy was just little, taught her to read and it is her connection to her. Cussy's father is a poor working miner and his goal is to get Cussy married in case something happens to him. But all potential suitors are soon turned away after seeing Cussy's blue skin. On Cussy's route she meets those who can't wait for her to arrive with new reading materials but she also meets those who are opposed or are distrustful to either the Library Project or her blue skin or both. No different than the townspeople. She has always faced those who accepted her for who she was and those who viciously teased, bullied her, blamed her for every thing gone wrong or showed outright racism including in her workplace. But she has been able to make some precious friendships through her work and she will do everything to keep it in spite of the obstacles thrown her way. The doctor in town has always had a keen interest in Cussy, or Bluet as he calls her, because of her blue skin and when he thinks he finds an experimental therapy that can "cure" her blue skin he talks Cussy's father in making her go along with it against Cussy's wishes. Humiliated by her treatment at the big city hospital, she nevertheless, keeps going hoping the results will change her life for the better. But will it actually change her impoverished community's minds about her?
I love, love, loved this story. The stories that touch my heart in some way, that pull the emotions out of me while at the same time teaching me things I had no idea about are those that stick with me and bring out those 10 out of 10 ratings. And this one did just that. Though a few pages in I wondered if I would like it. It took me a little bit to get used to the rhythm of the way the characters spoke. But once the story got going I was totally invested. It's a story about love, hate, prejudice, racism, and extreme poverty. I had no idea about the Packhorse Library Project or the Blue Skinned people of the area. I learned a lot. The story also gave me another view of the Appalachian area's history of poverty and community after reading "Hillbilly Elegy" last year. The author was able to weave historical information so well into a personal story of a young woman facing all those things. It took me on a roller coaster ride of emotions from horror to anger to happy to crying through several parts of Cussy's story and round about again. Excellent, powerful and moving story.
February Read Your Bookshelf Challenge Goal: Red on the Cover Read a Book Purchased in 2019 -2021