Release Day Review: 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. 




I struggle to my feet, straighten my back, lift my chin, then he hits me again. This time I fall down and stay down while he counts, “…eight, nine, ten.” He walks out the trailer door and slams it hard. The latch don’t catch and the door pops open. I lay on the floor and watch Roy Tupkin cross the dirt yard and disappear into the woods.

My world’s gone sideways again.

“Sadie girl,” Daddy’s spirit voice comes soft from behind my open eyes, “you got yourself in a pickle this time. No two ways about it. That husband of yours won’t stop until you and your baby draw your last breath. You don’t even look like yourself no more. He broke about every piece of sweet in you. You gonna let him break your spirit, too? You gonna do nothing?”

I’m tired, Daddy. Wore out. Roy don’t just beat me, he beats me down. Let me rest a spell. I don’t know if I can lift my head just yet.

Now Daddy’s voice comes from the yard where a lone wind rattles late summer oak leaves so they sound like hollow bones. “If I could follow the bastard and kill him for you, I would, baby girl, but it don’t work like that.” His voice drifts toward the rusty red truck up on blocks. “Don’t lay there too long, Sadie. You don’t need rest.” His words fade, “You need…”

What, Daddy? What do I need? I listen for him but he’s gone.

Percy scampers in from the hunt with a dead chipmunk. He drops his gift by my hand. When I don’t move, he nudges it close until I raise a finger and touch the fur still warm. Then he crawls on the small rise of my belly and curls up. Purrs vibrate clean through to my spine.

I need to get away, Percy, but don’t know how. Gotta be careful.

Percy listens good but he’s short on advice. I can’t think what to do right off with my brain muddled from this morning’s beating, so I gather strength to move. Shadows grow longer, and cold air glides across the door jamb giving me goose bumps. I roll over gentle to my side, and pieces of green plastic radio, and little Percy slide off without complaint. I put my palms on the floor and push to my knees. My arms tremble. My heart pounds in my ears. A bloody smear on the floor marks where my head landed. I brush sticky hair off my temple, hold on to the counter and pull up, dizzy, one hand on my baby bump. I don’t know I’m crying until salty tears sting the cut on my cheek. I thought I’d used up all my tears.

“You know what you gotta do?” Daddy’s voice is back, burrowing inside my ear.

I do? Tell me and I’ll do it.

“You’ll figure it out. You got smarts you don’t even know about yet.”

Daddy loves me better in death than he ever did in life. In life, when I was ten, and my pale hair in crooked braids, me sitting on an overturned bucket in a corner of the kitchen, watching the men around the table gamble, he threw a night with me in the poker pot instead of five dollars he don’t have. Granny and Aunt Marris never heard what he did, and I don’t say cause they’d take a belt to him and take me away from him when he needs me. Daddy won the hand. Said he counted on it. But he would have made good on his bet if he’d lost. He won’t go back on his word.

Daddy hung bones on the walls inside our house like some folks hang pictures of Jesus or give-away calendars. They were mostly dried out skulls he found hunting or tending the still. He ran twine through their empty eyes and wound the twine on a ten-penny nail high on the wall. He had the skulls of fox, bear, bobcat and panther, and the ribcage of a bear. Daddy even had a man’s skull in the lot. Found it in a cave near a rockslide that pinned the poor soul down til he wasted away. Said it was likely a miner or a dreamer looking for rubies and stones we don’t find round here. At night, under moonlight streaming through the front window, those bones turned polished pale and glowed like pieces of ghosts.

Granny won’t set foot in our house cause of daddy’s bones. Said it was queer. Said it won’t natural. Said it was a heathen thing to do. I asked daddy why he brought such things inside when nobody else did. He grinned and said, “One time these bones was wrapped in flesh and muscle and brains. They might have fought a good fight to the end. But in the end, even the smart ones is just bones with all the power gone. Looking at them makes me think different about power and petty things.”

I hear he didn’t start hanging bones on the wall til mama left.

Some folks say daddy was a peculiar soul. Some said he was a thinking man. He was funny, kind and always a pinch of sad the years I knew him, cause the pitiful truth is he got nothing from loving mama cept me left behind.


Afbeeldingsresultaat voor 4 stars

**ARC provided by author/publisher in exchange for an honest review**

If The Creek Don't Rise is set in the fictional mountain settlement called Baines Creek (Appalachia) in 1970. The Appalachia is an isolated community, stretching across parts of thirteen states, a parallel existence, backward from the civilized world that has morphed into the modern day, leaving these people behind. Like for many people who live in the Appalachia community, the people of Baines Creek are forgotten and are isolated from the main stream society. 

The book starts off with Sadie's POV, who is a young girl who is pregnant and marries the father of her unborn baby who is very abusive. This story was sad, heartbreaking and sometimes felt like these people in Baines Creek were surviving instead of living. However there are characters in this book that see potential in people in Baines Creek and encourages them. It was inspirational and uplifting seeing how much these very interesting characters meant for people who needed this positive energy. Just complimenting and telling young kids that everyone is born with talents, with gifts and the ability to dream, does a lot in motivating them. Every is linked and was told in a very interesting manner, I was hooked and wanted to discover all the secrets of this town. 

When I started this novel it was quite a culture shock for me because you don't really hear a lot about these communities anywhere. Especially for me, someone who lives in Europe, it was a very intriguing and interesting look into this community. I have never read a book like this one before. First of all there are ten POVs, but it really worked for this book. Normally I can't stand books that have more than two POVs, but it was very well done in this book. As for the writing, I had to get used to the 'dialect' and the way the people talked, and that kind of threw me off my reading flow in the first couple of chapters. This book was heartbreaking, uplifting, and mysterious in a way. The author made great use of all the characters and created a very multi-layered story. I have mixed feelings about the ending, in a way I really liked it but I also kind of wished there was more.

Afbeeldingsresultaat voor about the author

Leah Weiss
Leah Weiss is a Southern writer born in North Carolina and raised in the foothills of Virginia. IF THE CREEK DON’T RISE is her debut novel. She retired in 2015 from a 24-year career as Executive Assistant to the Headmaster at Virginia Episcopal School. Leah enjoys speaking with book clubs.

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