GodPretty in the Tobacco Field
Kim Michele Richardson

Book cover image

Narrated By: Katie Schorr

Duration: 8 hours and 11 minutes

What to expect

Atmospheric and searingly honest, GodPretty in the Tobacco Field is Coal Miner’s Daughter meets Winter’s Bone in a gripping tale of tender love and loss

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 fortune-tellers 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.


Historical fiction, Narrative theme: Coming of age, Family life fiction

Listen to a sample

“Beauty and sweetness weave a diaphanous fabric against the stark backdrop of poverty and cruelty.”

Sara Gruen, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“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.”

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…Fine Southern fiction.”

Historical Novels Review

“A powerful coming-of-age story…Ms. Richardson’s portrait of the neighboring families’ hopeless lives 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…[A] beautifully textured novel.”

Southern Literary Review

“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…[A] powerful story.”

RT Book Reviews (4 stars)

“Paints a picture of the hard life and bright dreams of young RubyLyn Bishop.”

Publishers Weekly

“Setting is everything in this [YA] crossover novel of the poverty-stricken region RubyLyn calls home. 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 1960s…RubyLyn and Rainey remain sympathetic characters for whom readers will wish a happy ending.”