Online Reading Challenge – April Wrap-Up

Hello Challengers!

How did your reading go this month? I hope you found something interesting for our Jojo Moyes read-alike month. I hadn’t read anything by Moyes, so I choose one of her more popular titles, The Giver of Stars.

Taking place in the Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky, The Giver of Stars dramatizes the work of the WPA Packhorse Librarians of Kentucky which ran from 1935 to 1943. Hobbled by poverty, isolation and lack of resources, the people of this area had little access to reading material. The Packhorse Librarians brought books, newspapers and magazines to far flung mountain homes, facing difficult terrain, bad weather and suspicious landowners. Their hard work provides a fascinating backdrop to the stories and adventures of the people of this beautiful but unforgiving land.

The small town of Baileyville. Kentucky has been hit hard by the Great Depression. Coal mining has provided some jobs, but at great cost both to the miners and their families and to the land. Alice Van Cleve, recently arrived from England and newly married to the son of the mine owner, she finds it nearly impossible to fit in. When the call goes out for ladies to help run the newly established Packhorse library, she is quick to volunteer despite the objections of her conservative husband and father-in-law. Away from her overbearing family and loveless marriage,  Alice has more freedom and independence than she has ever known and grows to love the land and the people she serves.

Alice and the other library workers face many obstacles including a catastrophic flood, townspeople who try to shut down the library as “unChristian”, lack of funds and materials, wild animals and treacherous terrain. There’s some romance, some heartbreak and a murder mystery. Through it all, Alice and her library friends form an unbreakable bond, coming together to support and celebrate. I especially enjoyed reading about and was impressed by the hard work these women did and their dedication to their patrons and literacy.

Earlier in the month I mentioned that I had read The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Richardson a couple years ago. It is also about the Packhorse Librarians of Kentucky and was published just a few months before The Giver of Stars. At the time, there was some controversy that Moyes’ book had plagiarized  the earlier book. I didn’t feel that though – while both books center on the Packhorse Librarian program during the Great Depression, the characters and what happens to them are very different. Both are worth reading!

Now it’s your turn – what did you read in April?

6 thoughts on “Online Reading Challenge – April Wrap-Up

  1. I read The Last Letter From Your Lover by JoJo Moyes. I did not really care for it. I found it predictable and I didn’t like the main character much. This was my first book by Moyes and even though I didn’t care for this book I would try reading another.

  2. I also read The Giver of Stars! Coincidentally, I had read The Bookwoman of Troublesome Creek a few months earlier also! I feared I’d be prejudiced toward Bookwoman because I’d read it first, but they were both wonderful in their own ways. I was really fascinated by the info about the “blue people” of Kentucky in Bookwoman, though. I first heard about them on an episode of Mysteries at the Museum (gave me a little connection to the story).

    Thanks for introducing to me to Moyes, though – I think I’ll be reading more by her!

  3. Yes! I felt the same way! I had never heard of the “blue people” and when it first came up in the book I thought it was science fiction, but I did some checking and it is true. It added another, fascinating layer to the story.

    Thanks for reading along with us – so happy you enjoyed your book this month!

    Ann

  4. I’m sorry to hear your title wasn’t that great this month. If the main character isn’t likeable, it’s pretty hard to enjoy the book! I hope you have better luck with another title.

    Thanks for reading along with us!

    Ann

  5. My libby reserve has yet to come in for Giver of the Stars. I found Jodi Picoult “Leaving Time” in and listened to that. Will report on in July.
    Thank you for keeping the online challenge going. I have discovered some wonderful authors.

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