Life is hard in Baines Creek, an impoverished town in the Appalachian mountains of North Carolina. For Sadie Blue, it’s made even harder by an unplanned pregnancy that led to her marriage to Roy Tupkin—a mean-spirited moonshiner who began beating her days after their marriage. Her story of hardship is just one of many in the small town that lost hope long ago. The arrival of the new school teacher, Kate Shaw, is met with suspicion and gossip from some, but is a source of inspiration and hope for others in the town.
We see the town and its people through the eyes of several characters in the book. They each offer a unique perspective on a handful of key events that take place in the story, and they all have secrets others know nothing about. It felt a bit like a collection of short stories, in a way. Don’t let that put you off, because it works extremely well and gave the story a steady, irresistible flow that kept me reading until dawn.
Weiss has written an emotional tale that doesn’t shy away from the stark realities of abject poverty. These oft-times grim details illustrate the toils of a hard-lived life, while also taking care not to portray the characters as one-dimensional objects of pity throughout. Some characters have no redeeming qualities, and yet, when you learn why they became the way they are, you can’t help but feel just a bit of sympathy for them… and that, to me, is the epitome of excellence in writing.
Without giving anything away, I have to mention the final two lines in the novel are OUTSTANDING. If I weren’t afraid of waking everyone in the house, I would have let out a LOUD cheer. It was sheer perfection.
If you love reading southern fiction, put this one on your to-read list!
Author: Leah Weiss
Title: If The Creek Don’t Rise
Genre: Southern Fiction
Publication Date: August 22nd, 2017 by Sourcebooks Landmark
About the Book
A strikingly sincere portrait of a town and its buried secrets from an outstanding new voice in southern fiction.
In a North Carolina mountain town filled with moonshine and rotten husbands, Sadie Blue is only the latest girl to face a dead-end future at the mercy of a dangerous drunk. She’s been married to Roy Tupkin for fifteen days, and she knows now that she should have listened to the folks who said he was trouble. But when a stranger sweeps in and knocks the world off-kilter for everyone in town, Sadie begins to think there might be more to life than being Roy’s wife.
As stark and magnificent as Appalachia itself, If the Creek Don’t Rise is a bold and beautifully layered debut about a dusty, desperate town finding the inner strength it needs to outrun its demons. The folks of Baines Creek will take you deep into the mountains with heart, honesty, and homegrown grit.
About the Author
Author photo and bio via Goodreads.