Book Review: If the Creek Don’t Rise, by Leah Weiss

if the creek don't rise
Image belongs to Sourcebooks.

Appalachia in the 1970s is a place of poverty and penance, moonshine and men who run it. Sadie Blue isn’t the first local girl to find herself married to a dangerous drunk, but 15 days after marrying Roy, she learns to regret her decision, even for the sake of the baby. Sadie’s future in rural Baines Creek is bleak at best.

Then a stranger arrives in town, and the longings for a different future that stir in Sadie spring to life. The new teacher is happy to help Sadie realize her dream of learning to read, and her friendship teaches more than letters and words. With her new perspective, Sadie realizes her dreams aren’t impossible, but will she be able to figure out how to make them reality?

If the Creek Don’t Rise was a difficult book for me to read. The abject poverty and the backwards mentality of the residents of Baines Creek were horrifying to me—and I lived in a tiny town in Arkansas for a while, where the mentality and outlook were not too dissimilar from this Appalachian setting. The characters were vivid and believable, even if their natures were sad to me. Sadie is a strong girl trying to overcome her mistakes, and fighting against a mentality of “you made your bed, now lie in it.” I cannot fathom a life or a community like this, but the author brings it to startling, believable life.

Leah Weiss went to college on a piano scholarship, then taught music and wrote articles before becoming an executive assistant. If the Creek Don’t Rise is her first published novel.

(Galley provided by Sourcebooks via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)

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