About this book: (from the publisher) Nameless, Kentucky, in 1969 is a hardscrabble community where jobs are few and poverty is a simple fact—just like the hot Appalachian breeze or the pests that can wipe out a tobacco field in days. RubyLyn Bishop is luckier than some. Her God-fearing uncle, Gunnar, has a short fuse and high expectations, but he’s given her a good home ever since she was orphaned at the age of five. Yet now, a month shy of her sixteenth birthday, RubyLyn itches for more.
Maybe it’s something to do with the paper fortunetellers RubyLyn has been making for townsfolk, each covered with beautifully wrought, prophetic drawings. Or perhaps it’s because of Rainey Ford, an African-American neighbor who works alongside her in the tobacco field, and with whom she has a kinship, despite her uncle’s worrisome shadow and the town’s disapproval. RubyLyn’s predictions are just wishful thinking, not magic at all, but through them she’s imagining life as it could be, away from the prejudice and hardship that ripple through Nameless.
Atmospheric, poignant, and searingly honest, GodPretty in the Tobacco Field follows RubyLyn through the course of one blazing summer, as heartbreaking revelations and life-changing decisions propel her toward a future her fortunetellers never predicted.
About the author: Kim Michele Richardson is a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity and an advocate for the prevention of child abuse and domestic violence. She is also the author of the memoir The Unbreakable Child and the novel Liar’s Bench. Kim Michele resides in the rolling hills of Kentucky with her family and is hard at work on her next novel.
Genre: Fiction/Southern Lit/Literary
If this book were a movie, I would rate it: PG-13
Reminds me of: The Water Witch by Kimberly Brock
[Tweet “Gritty Southern Lit’s unflinching look at poverty’s devastating effect on women & children @writernwaiting”]
Reflection: Some books are meant to be cozied up with and absorbed without much thought. Others are written to do just the opposite: to provoke thought…perhaps even action. To challenge, illuminate, unsettle.
Like this one.
Dazzling in its unrelenting grittiness, GodPretty in the Tobacco Field takes an unflinching look at poverty’s cruelty to women and children, and yet it is not without its moments of lovely. Its naked lyricism holds your eyes to the page even past the point that you want to look away. And while set in a bygone era, its story has never been more relevant.
GodPretty in the Tobacco Field is a tale of secrets, memories, guilt. But it’s also a tale of redemption, which unfolds in a most unexpected way and reminds its readers to hold on to hope for as long as life remains.
Thanks to the author and Kensington Books for providing me a free copy to review. All opinions are mine.