Book Review: If the Creek Don’t Rise by Leah Weiss

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3 out of 5 stars to If The Creek Don’t Rise, an historical fiction novel set to be published in August 2017, written by Leah Weiss. I enjoyed reading the book, selecting 3 stars because it had several strong parts but also some concerns that I’ll share later. Overall, I’m glad I read it.


Why This Book 
I read the description of this book via NetGalley, where I search for all my ARCs, and thought it would be a great read prior to my upcoming trip to North Carolina, where I may be stopping in the same rural mountain area.

Plot, Characters & Setting 
This is an ensemble book about a cast of 10 characters in the mid 20th century who live in the rural area of the Appalachian Mountains in North Carolina. It covers a few events that occurred to some of the townspeople in Baines Creek, providing the view points from different sides of the story. It centers around Sadie Blue, a 17-year-old girl who marries the man who has just gotten her pregnant. From there, the book covers domestic abuse, murder, religion, family, love and friendships. At its core, the novel covers the various relationships built in the town, understanding who sits back doing nothing versus who takes action when they are passionate about the outcome and protection of life.

Approach & Style 
I read the electronic version on my Kindle via an iPad over the course of five nights. The book is about 300 pages, each 20 pages long across 15 chapters. Each chapter is told from a different character’s point of view, written in the first person perspective. Dialect is important given the book is recreating life during a historical time period in a very specific region where culture and society are quite different.

The characters are very clear and distinct. Each of the major players has a voice you will recognize and understand. Sometimes you will love them and sometimes you will hate them, but each one will leave an impression.

The setting is quite strong. You will feel transported to this rural town in the mountains. From the description, to the dialect and to the way the story unfolds, it matches what you’d expect from the constructs of this type of environment. You will feel like you are in the town.

It deals with very specific personal and family issues that will resonate will a lot of people. From a social perspective, it highlights things that happened in the past that were almost condoned or allowed to happen, due to people’s fears and lack of education or knowledge.

When I read the description, I thought it would be a great plot and story. But when I read the book, it was quite different. This is not a novel where a primary plot point drives the chapters. It’s a character-driven story that tells of the happenings in a small town. The plot isn’t as important as the way each of the characters interpret it. I found myself skimming pages to get to the crux of the story, but it never happened. It’s a preference style, and I think the book should be marketed differently and have an alternative description or cover summary. It would help find a different set of readers who enjoy this type of book. Had I known, I might have spent more time investing in the characters in the beginning rather than trying to piece together a plot that wasn’t going to become any more clear. That said, it’s still a well-written book and will appeal to a wide audience.

Author & Other Similar Books 
Although they are not of the same caliber, it reminded me of the book Beartown by Fredrik Backman. Both books cover highly controversial social issues within a small town, telling the story of how everyone reacts to a few critical events. Where Beartown brings a focus on plot, this book is more about how people interpret society’s values and actions.

It’s the author’s first book, but she shows a lot of promise. I would read another of her books, but I’d want to be careful to understand the plot and approach to telling the story to verify it matches with the way I like to read a book.

Final Thoughts 
In my world, a 3 is a good review. It means you had good elements and a few things I didn’t quite latch on to. If this had a little more action and some clarity around the plot and point of the book, I might have given it a 4. That said, it will definitely resonate with many readers given it has a strong pull to connect you to the characters and the setting. Hope you enjoy it.

About Me 
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.


22 thoughts on “Book Review: If the Creek Don’t Rise by Leah Weiss

    janieleeds said:
    August 26, 2017 at 9:58 AM

    I’m glad I got to read your review of the book because like you, I may skim when I just want to get to the crux of the story. I like character development as well, but again, it’s what I’m in the mood for at the time and like you, I’d be giving 3 stars for the marketing of the book as such. Great job. Thanks for role-modeling reviews for me. I hope you have a lovely weekend!

    Liked by 1 person

      James J. Cudney IV responded:
      August 26, 2017 at 10:07 AM

      Hi. You are welcome, glad to help! I appreciate the feedback. I really wanted to like it more, and if it had been clearly shows as a character book, I probably would have. Have a lovely weekend too!

      Liked by 1 person

    foodinbooks said:
    August 26, 2017 at 11:10 AM

    Sounds like an interesting, if not disturbing, read. I recently read a review of Beartown and though the subject matter is important, it does not make me want to read the book. This one sounds interesting and I like how you characterize the plot and the summary.

    Liked by 1 person

      James J. Cudney IV responded:
      August 26, 2017 at 12:51 PM

      This book did have a good overall story, just told very differently than expected.

      Beartown is my favorite book this year, but I was so angry for days after reading it. It will have a very impacting result if you do read it.

      Liked by 1 person

    Cozynookbks said:
    August 26, 2017 at 1:55 PM

    Thank you for your very insightful review. Your reviewing technique is a lot more mature than mine, LOL. I can learn a lot from you in this regard since I honestly don’t know enough about what drives a book’s plot, etc. to speak on it in such detail. I’m a novice.

    I’ve heard of this book and it sounds appealing to me. I like books with strong settings. Thanks again for telling us all about it.

    Liked by 1 person

      James J. Cudney IV responded:
      August 26, 2017 at 2:20 PM

      Thank you for your feedback. I’ve written 500 reviews, so it took me a while to figure out my voice and style. Think about what you want to convey, they figure out how to organize it. It’s not easy, I definitely understand where you are coming from.

      Liked by 1 person

    Marjorie said:
    August 26, 2017 at 3:27 PM

    I’ve had my eye on this book for awhile and was hoping to find a dependable review. So thanks for such comprehensive insight into this. I do like character driven books so I think I’ll give this one a try.

    Liked by 1 person

      James J. Cudney IV responded:
      August 26, 2017 at 3:31 PM

      I’m glad I could help. Going into know that makes it a much better read.


    BrizzleLass said:
    August 26, 2017 at 4:39 PM

    I hate it when a description falls short of what the book delivers, how hard is it to write an accurate description after all?
    Sorry this didn’t live up to expectations but at least it wasn’t a complete flop!

    Liked by 1 person

      James J. Cudney IV responded:
      August 26, 2017 at 4:42 PM

      So true! It wasn’t a flop, just an expectation fail. I think people will like it. But I needed a stronger plot to make it a great book for me.


    Martie said:
    August 27, 2017 at 7:27 AM

    I am curious as to why you thought this would be plot-driven and not character-driven?

    Liked by 1 person

      James J. Cudney IV responded:
      August 27, 2017 at 7:42 AM

      Part of it was that the book description was 2/3 about Sadie and how she needs help from someone else to get away. I took from it that we’d see her struggle the entire way thru. But the way it was told, changing perspectives from different characters, didn’t add to her story as much as tell their own, then include a little bit about their relationship with Sadie. The last section of the description does mention the contribution of the other voices, but I didn’t get from it that it was more a book with an ensemble cast of 10 who each tell about their own life. Does that make sense?


    RhapsodyBoheme said:
    August 27, 2017 at 5:31 PM

    Thanks for the great review, definitely love me a good book. Have a great weekend

    Liked by 1 person

      James J. Cudney IV responded:
      August 27, 2017 at 5:33 PM

      thanks for reading and commenting. Hope your weekend has been going well.

      Liked by 1 person

        RhapsodyBoheme said:
        August 27, 2017 at 5:37 PM

        As good as it can working in retail lol. Thank you James, hope yours is awesome and you are enjoying your time. Hugs for Ryder. 🐕

        Liked by 1 person

        James J. Cudney IV responded:
        August 27, 2017 at 5:38 PM

        Aww, Ryder appreciates it. He’s busy working on tomorrow’s post.

        Ah retail, I miss it at times.

        Liked by 1 person

        RhapsodyBoheme said:
        August 27, 2017 at 11:15 PM

        Haha can’t wait, he has built quite the fan base already.
        And an even bigger haha to missing retail and its event changing/rising demands with less resources and grumpier more ungrateful customers. It is turning into the servant business vs service business, but here I am, still doing it and still convinced to help others along in their career.

        Liked by 1 person

        James J. Cudney IV responded:
        August 28, 2017 at 8:03 AM

        That’s very good of you. I don’t shop very often, and when I do, it’s more online unless it’s clothes. Just too crowded in stores. Hope you have a good week!

        Liked by 1 person

        RhapsodyBoheme said:
        August 29, 2017 at 1:38 AM

        I hear you and more and more I am the same and don’t want to emerge myself in the hustle and bustle on my days off

        Liked by 1 person

    fitnessgrad said:
    August 29, 2017 at 12:54 PM

    I had never heard of this particular author, although I don’t read as often as I used to, so maybe I have been under a rock with books lately. lol


    Liked by 1 person

      James J. Cudney IV responded:
      August 29, 2017 at 12:57 PM

      Brand new, first novel! just came out. ha

      Liked by 1 person

        fitnessgrad said:
        August 29, 2017 at 12:59 PM

        Hm this is no wonder, thought I had seen you mention that, but no talk of them.. on social media or anything, they must be on the DL lol

        Liked by 1 person

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