Book Review for “The Book Woman’s Daughter” by Kim Michele Richardson.
Summary: “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 that 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.”
Age: Adult; Genres: Literary, Women, Fiction; Settings: Historical, Kentucky – Appalachia region; Other Categories: Novel, Sequel.
Yes, I know I have said that I hate book titles that include the words “daughter” or “wife” and then some male profession, but Richardson can be forgiven this time. First, because this is a sequel to her novel “The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek” which I really loved. Second, at least with this one, the gender of the person this daughter is related to is a female as well. Furthermore, I’ve made quite a few enemies of fans of Jojo Moyes because I am totally positive that Moyes heavily plagiarized from Richardson’s book to write her “Giver of Stars,” and I’ve told them so, both often, and loudly! So, when I heard that Richardson was coming out with a sequel to that book, I was thrilled. Moyes wouldn’t DARE do a repeat performance, and this second book will surely help get Richardson’s first book in this series some more, well deserved publicity.
Those who saw my review of the first book will know that it got full marks from me, and this is why I not only asked for the ARC, but I also didn’t wait to get approved before I pre-ordered a print copy. Now, I don’t regret doing that (anything to help an indie published author), but admittedly, I’m not sure if this book is as quite as powerful as the first one. While Honey does come up against much of the same prejudices as her mother Cussy, since it is only Honey’s hands and feet that are still blue, she’s able to hide her genetic disorder, at least most of the time. Obviously, this doesn’t help with her parents being arrested and jailed for being a “mixed” couple, and Honey being underage and threatened with being jailed herself. So, you can see that there’s no small amount of fodder here for a good story, and Richardson certainly puts quite a few obstacles into Honey’s path, as well as some positive things to give us hope that she’ll be okay.
The question is, was Richardson able to evoke as much sympathy for Honey as she did for Cussy? While I really liked Honey’s spunk, and I felt like she was both very likeable and smart, I’m not sure if my heart went out to her as much as it did for Cussy. This isn’t to say that I didn’t feel for all of Honey’s troubles, because I certainly did. This is more to say that I felt like the focus on her problems sometimes took a back seat to the things that were happening to the other, presumably more minor characters in this book. This made me think that perhaps all that research that Richardson did while she lived in this area, brought her so many stories of the cruelties that some people could level upon others that she felt compelled to give us more than only Honey’s story. I’m not sure that this was the best idea, since with such a wide net and so many tales to tell, that the spotlight on Honey was diffused a bit too much. This partially kept me from getting truly attached to Honey, even while I also felt very close to her and worried about how she’d fare.
Again, this isn’t a bad book, because there’s a whole lot to love here, especially with some of the descriptions of the area that are very vivid and poetic. All I’m saying is that this felt a bit like it wasn’t concentrating quite enough on Honey, even though I did enjoy all the secondary characters, and I did feel that they were fascinating additions. This is why I’m having a hard time deciding how high I should rate this book. I’m certainly going to recommend it, but I don’t think I can give it a full five stars – I only choked up a tiny bit at the very end. It is just as beautifully written as the previous book, but I think I preferred that one a bit more than this one, so… I think four and a half is about right, and I’m still a fan of Richardson’s writing.
Sourcebooks Landmark released “The Book Woman’s Daughter” by Author on May 3, 2022. This book is available (via the following affiliate links) from Amazon, Foyles, The Book Depository UK and Book Depository US (both with free worldwide delivery), Waterstones, WHSmith, Wordery UK and Wordery US, Kobo US (eBooks and audiobooks), the website eBooks.com, Booksamillion.com, iTunes (iBooks and audiobooks), new or used from Alibris, used from Better World Books (promoting libraries and world literary), as well as from as well as from Bookshop.org and UK.Bookshop (to support independent bookshops, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic) or an IndieBound store near you. I would like to thank the publishers for sending me an ARC of this novel via NetGalley.