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.
Praise for GodPretty in the Tobacco Field "Richardson's deft second novel paints a picture of hard life and bright dreams...Richardson's skill fully develops RubyLyn's plight." --Publishers Weekly
"Setting is everything...The reader learns a great deal about the impact of President Johnson's War on Poverty in rural Kentucky and, equally, about the place of women in that society in the late 60's...Sympathetic characters whom readers will wish a happy ending." --Booklist
"Kim Michele Richardson aptly portrays the impoverished life of the hill people with her images of the beauty yet hardship of the mountains as well as the way this particular world experienced discrimination in the sixties." --The New York Journal of Books
"Filled with the music of Appalachia, the wrath-of-God discipline of a sinner trying to keep a youngster on the straight and narrow, and the bred-in-the-bone dignity of a downtrodden community so secluded that its barefoot children don't even realize they're considered "poor,"GodPretty in the Tobacco Field, a memorable story of secrets and scandal, reckoning and redemption, is fine Southern fiction." --Historical Novels Review
"A powerful coming-of-age story...Ms. Richardson's portrait of the neighboring families' hopeless lives (one family is ready to sell a child to get out of debt) stands out as one of the book's major achievements. That achievement includes pitch-perfect representation of speech patterns and finely detailed views of the homes, the clothing, the food on the table, the family heirlooms, the body language, the facial expressions...This beautifully textured novel raises many challenges for its main characters to overcome and, as it comes to a close, many surprises. Saying any more would ruin it for you." --Southern Literary Review
"Richardson's latest contains beautifully drawn characters and honest, lyrical language. Through the author's expressive dialogue and vivid descriptions, the textures of the rural Kentucky landscape--along with the aching emotions that come from RubyLyn, are felt. RubyLyn's connection with Rainey is sweet, poignant, and tender. This powerful story will leave an impression on readers long after they complete it" --RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars
"A great piece of work." --Bill Burton, Host of "Morning Edition" WFPL, NPR Affiliate
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