If you don’t know, two books have recently come out with part of the plot focusing on the same thing in the same time, mid-1930s and the Kentucky pack horse librarians.
The first that I picked up is The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes published Oct 2019 by Pamela Dorman Books. I read it a couple of months ago and reviewed it here. As I was reading it, I found out about the controversy. There are a couple of articles out there about how the author of this book, Kim Michele Richardson, was alerted to the fact that are a number of similarities between her book and The Giver of Stars.
Kim Michele Richardson wrote The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, published May 2019 by Sourcebooks Landmark. Without thinking about the controversy, I liked The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek but it was heavy. I didn’t like how she ended it. It pissed me off that it ended the way that it did and I was left wanting. I felt like so much time was spent building up the story and then it ended with barely a resolution. I thought the book was incredibly interesting because not only did it delve into the history and story of the pack horse library, but also the blue people of Kentucky. I thought it was incredibly interesting how race played out in that. How the blue people are actually white but with an affliction that cause them to be blue and how they are treated the same as Black people, in some ways even less than Black people are.
When I compare the two books, I thought The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek was so much better done. It felt so much more real. The dialect and speech was correct. I’m still incredibly annoyed that Jojo Moyes used “youse” instead of “y’all”.
I was struck by the number of similarities. They say that there is no such thing as coincidence and after reading both books, it is really hard for me to believe that there are so many coincidences between the two books. At the same time, the writing is entirely different.
I think if you are looking for an interesting story and enjoy the writing of Jojo Moyes, then give The Giver of Stars a chance. I really enjoy her writing style overall. I’m glad that her main character in this book is English because I think I would have been offended if she wrote about Kentucky, coming from England.
Kim Michele Richardson is from Kentucky. I think the historical, cultural, and local aspect is more realistic in her book. It’s more tragic and heavier. It’s not a happy easy read. It made me uncomfortable and sad at times. I felt angered by injustice at parts and wanted to scream about the characters in the book, that it wasn’t fair to treat her like that! I think that is the mark of a good book though.
I will admit that this controversy has caused me to be a bit wary of Jojo Moyes. I’m not going to rush out and buy her books. I’m not sure how I feel about her and everything yet. I loved Me Before You and the books in that series. I like her stories but I’m conflicted.
If I was going to recommend one book to read about the pack horse library in Kentucky… hands down it would be The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek. I think it gives a more realistic and accurate portrayal of the history and the area.