cover image If the Creek Don’t Rise

If the Creek Don’t Rise

Leah Weiss. Sourcebooks Landmark, $15.99 trade paper (320p) ISBN 978-1-4926-4745-4

In this tender but powerful debut, Weiss paints both the bright and the dark in the lives of her fictional Appalachian community’s denizens. It is the fall of 1970 in Baines Creek, N.C., where pregnant teen Sadie Blue is newly married to her unborn child’s father, Rory Tupkin, a bully doesn’t hesitate to beat her. Her grandmother, Gladys Hicks, once had to deal with her own abusive husband and feels that it is up to Sadie to do the same. Marris Jones is a good-hearted woman who wants to help Sadie, as does Kate Shaw, the strong-willed teacher new to the mountain, and Birdie Rocas, the witchy woman. Each of these women bring some good to Sadie’s life and to others in the community. Others, like Rory and the preacher’s sister, Prudence Perkins, only bring venom and pain to those around them. All of these and more get a chapter or two to spin their own tales, while Sadie’s story slips in and out, highlighting Weiss’s considerable characterization skills. Agent: Rebecca Gradinger, Fletcher and Co. (Aug.)