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After her parents are jailed for violating Kentucky’s miscegenation laws in 1953, Honey, only 16, is on her own. Though only her hands are affected, she shares a rare genetic condition with her mother that renders her skin blue. Honey is not really alone. She makes fast friends with Pearl, the fire lookout, and she takes a job as a packhorse librarian, delivering books to the virtually impenetrable hollers, carrying on her mother’s tradition of being a book woman. Richardson’s follow-up to The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek (2019) shows how little has changed in the rural mountains of Kentucky: poverty runs rampant, coal mining is dangerous work, and people need the escape that reading brings them. It is also a man’s world, but steel-spined women—Honey and Pearl, a woman coal miner, a young girl with a pet rooster—are fighting for their place. 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
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In this earnest follow-up to The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, Richardson focuses on 16-year-old Honey Lovett, the daughter of Cussy Mary Lovett, the woman with blue skin whose work for the Pack Horse Library during the 1930s featured in the first installment. Cussy married Jackson Lovett, a white man, and Honey, who inherited an easily concealable version of Cussy’s methemoglobinemia, fends for herself now that her parents have been imprisoned for miscegenation. It’s 1953, and sympathetic friends help keep Honey out of the Kentucky House of Reform, which is bent on holding her until she’s 21. As an effort to achieve her independence, she takes up the traveling librarian job once held by her mother, even riding the same faithful mule, Junia. She also convinces lawyer Bob Morgan to represent her in a bid for legal emancipation, culminating in a climactic courtroom scene complete with damaging testimony from a racist social worker and a misogynist sheriff. 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. Agent: Stacy Teta, Writers House. (May)