Wonderland Creek (a book review)

Wonderland Creek is written by Lynn Austin and copyrighted in 2011. It is published in both paper and ink, and electronic readers by Bethany House Publishers. It is 358 pages long.

Austin writes historical fiction very capably. I am no stranger to her books. This book has a setting in Kentucky in 1936 and wonderfully covers the period of time when former President F.D. Roosevelt was doing whatever could be done to recover from the Great Depression. One of the job creations made in the government programs was hiring people to deliver books to the backwoods people in the mountains. The people were very poor because the closing of factories also closed the coal mines. The “librarians” used pack horses and mules to load up books and take them to families. Where no one could read well, the person delivering the books would stay and read to them. Before reading this book, I had no idea such a program ever existed.

Austin fashions a plot around two feuding families and a Negro woman who claims to be 100 years old. Add to that a city girl from outside Chicago who delivers boxes of discarded books to the library at Alcorn, Kentucky. The librarian, whom she expected to be female, turns out to be male. Then add to the story a bit of mystery and what you get is an outstanding work of fiction based on a real place in 1936.

My only complaint in the book is that is starts painstakingly slow. Yet, at the slow pace, I did see why Austin took so much time to build the main character. While there is a main plot, it is so interwoven with the subplots that the book moves deftly along to the conclusion which has a surprise element.

Do I recommend this book? Indeed I do. Young adults and old can find enjoyable companionship with this young lady who tells the story in first person.


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