If The Creek Don't Rise by Leah Weiss
He’s gonna be sorry he ever messed with me and Loretta Lynn.
Sadie Blue has been a wife for fifteen days. That’s long enough to know she should have never hitched herself to Roy Tupkin, even with the baby. Sadie is desperate to make her own mark on the world, but in remote Appalachia, a ticket out of town is hard to come by, and hope often gets stomped out. When a stranger sweeps into Baines Creek and knocks things off kilter, Sadie finds herself with an unexpected lifeline…if she can just figure out how to use it.
This intimate insight into a fiercely proud, tenacious community unfolds through the voices of the forgotten folks of Baines Creek. With a colorful cast of characters that each contribute a new perspective, IF THE CREEK DON’T RISE is a debut novel bursting with heart, honesty, and homegrown grit.
Praise for If the Creek Don’t Rise An Indie Next, Okra Pick, and LibraryReads
"This one nearly broke my heart. With deeply human characters I will not easily forget, Weiss captures the fierce pull of desperation and the formidable power of hope. An impressive debut from a talent to watch.... " — Kathleen Grissom, author of the New York Times bestsellers The Kitchen House and Glory Over Everything
“Weiss’ debut novel reveals the best and worst of human nature… The author’s masterful use of language, including dialect unique to the area, builds another layer of connection between these characters while she develops a greater sense of inner isolation and distance from those outside the community. Weiss’ novel is a great suggestion for fans of the Big Stone Gap books, by Adriana Trigiani, and Mitford series, by Jan Karon.” – Booklist, STARRED review
“Part gothic, part romance, part heartbreaking Loretta Lynn ballad—Weiss' tale is a beguiling, compelling read.” —Kirkus Reviews
“…tender but powerful debut...” — Publishers Weekly
“If the Creek Don't Rise is a satisfyingly complete novel….With its bewitching residents and rugged landscape, a journey to Baines Creek is a trip worth taking, and Weiss is likely to find many readers eagerly willing to travel with her again.” — Maximum Shelf Awareness
Writing with a deep knowledge of the enduring myths of Appalachia, Weiss vividly portrays real people and sorrows.” —Library Journal, STARRED review
"Every page of Leah Weiss' debut, If the Creek Don't Rise, has a pulse as fierce and unyielding as its Appalachian setting. Told through an ensemble of narrators, men and women of all ages bound by the inescapable power of place and belonging, it is a lush exploration of the darkest rooms in the human heart, and the brightest fires of the human spirit. Weiss' remarkable gift for language left me breathless, and her characters, distinctive and unapologetically-human, will haunt me for some time." —Erika Marks, author of The Last Treasure
“Sweet Jesus, help me. I clutch my hands together in desperate prayer. I promise to be good after this. All I want is to not get beat up. Find my special life. Live up to my potential. Read by myself. Kill Roy Tupkin.” These are the words of Sadie Blue, the battered but defiant protagonist of Leah Weiss’ incredible debut novel. This was a powerful and dark read about the cycle of poverty and one girl’s desire to dare and rise above her circumstance to become something more. Set in the 70’s in a small Appalachian mountain town, Sadie Blue is a teenage bride whose husband beats her regularly just because he can. She is parentless, uneducated and there seems to be no way out for her. Her grandmother lives just up the road, but refuses to help her as she is fighting demons of her own. Salvation comes for Sadie in the form of Kate Shaw; an educated, forward thinker, and Baines Creek’s newest teacher. Kate is shocked upon her arrival to see the level of poverty that the town lives in but she recognizes Sadie’s potential immediately. When things with Roy escalate past the point of no return one night, the stage is set for things to change for everyone involved.
There is so much to say about this book. First of all, it is written in Appalachian dialect, so it takes some getting used to initially. However, I thought this was a brilliant move on the part of Weiss because it gives the entire story such authenticity. There are multiple points of views presented throughout this novel, so you get a full understanding of the town and its people. The story is told from flashbacks between the past and the present but the transitions from character to character are smooth and very easy to follow. There are a lot of unsavory, awful people in this story and I fluctuated from shock to anger many times as I read. I have to say that my favorite character was Birdie -- she came across as a mix between a medicine woman and a voodoo queen. I loved her interactions with Samuel and all his “friends” and I am so glad that Weiss incorporated her in to the story.
And that ending!!! It was abrupt, but perfectly done. This book is certainly thought provoking and would make an excellent book club pick as it touches on several hard topics. There is so much heart and grit packed in to these pages that it is very hard to believe that this book is a debut. The people of Baines Creek have it hard. They are tough, they are broken, and evil runs rampant in their small mountain town. And still, like the creek, the people rise.
Leah Weiss is a Southern writer and novelist born in North Carolina and raised in the foothills of Virginia. Her debut novel, If the Creek Don’t Rise, will be released in August of 2017. Her short stories have been published in The Simple Life magazine, Every Day Fiction and Deep South Magazine. She retired in 2015 from a 24-year career as Executive Assistant to the Headmaster at Virginia Episcopal School. She now pursues writing full time.