A strikingly sincere portrait of a town and its buried secrets from an outstanding new voice in southern fiction.
In a North Carolina mountain town filled with moonshine and rotten husbands, Sadie Blue is only the latest girl to face a dead-end future at the mercy of a dangerous drunk. She’s been married to Roy Tupkin for fifteen days, and she knows now that she should have listened to the folks who said he was trouble. But when a stranger sweeps in and knocks the world off-kilter for everyone in town, Sadie begins to think there might be more to life than being Roy’s wife.
As stark and magnificent as Appalachia itself, If the Creek Don’t Rise is a bold and beautifully layered debut about a dusty, desperate town finding the inner strength it needs to outrun its demons. The folks of Baines Creek will take you deep into the mountains with heart, honesty, and homegrown grit.
I have never read anything like If the Creek Don’t Rise by Leah Weiss before and I mean this in a good way. The story turned out to be different from what I was expecting. One thing that set it apart was the narrative style. The story is set in Baines Creek, a small, mountain town in North Carolina. The town was a character in itself. It was the kind of town where all residents knew each other. What I didn’t understand though was the education sector in the town. It sounded like there were no schools apart from the kindergarten where the kids learned. I thought this was a bit odd though a minor detail.
The book is about the residents of Baines Creek told through multiple narrations. Each POV is told in about only two chapters. However, the stories are interwoven so that the only thing that changes is the narrator. At first, the style was frustrating. I wanted to hear more from some of the characters like grandma, Gladys and Sadie but then new narrators kept being introduced. It took a while to adjust to the changing POVs but once I did, I ended up really enjoying the narration. By the way, apart from the narrators, the author used a different dialect in some of the dialogue to reflect the setting.
This being a character-led story, readers get to really know each of the MCs. I think my favorite one was Sadie because I sympathized with her. She was a lovely girl, unfortunately married to an abusive monster. I liked how she was friendly, her love for Loretta’s music and in general, her kind, gentle spirit. I was frustrated by her inability to leave her husband although I did understand why. I liked her auntie, Marris and grandma, Gladys and the teacher, Kate. Even the herbalist, Birdie, was a delight to read about and so was Pastor Eli. Okay, I liked most of the characters. Some I really disliked though like Roy (Sadie’s abusive husband) and his sidekick, Billy. The reverend’s sister , Prudence, was kinda mean too. The author did a fantastic job with the crafting of characters such that all of them felt familiar by the end of the book. I got to know them and form attachments with some of them and I enjoyed the fact that we got to hear their side of the narration.
The writing of this story was done well. I found it addictive even though this wasn’t a suspenseful read like what I usually go for. However, I was invested in the story and the characters and for a while, I got lost in Baines Creek. The ending was twisted, unpredictable and perfect for the story. I think that this book will appeal to readers of character-driven stories and Southern Literature. If you like small town settings then I suggest that you take a trip to Baines Creek.