Published June 27th 2006 (first published January 1st 1967
At nineteen, Christy Huddleston left home to teach school in the Smokies — coming to know and care for the wild mountain people, with their fierce pride, terrible poverty, dark superstitions…and their yearning for beauty and truth. But in these primitive surroundings, Christy’s faith would be severely tested by the unique strengths and needs of two remarkable young men — and challenged by a heart torn between desire…and love.
Christy is one of those books I’ve read probably almost a dozen times. I think I first read it at thirteen or fourteen years old. Most recently I listened to the audiobook version, which I enjoyed, too. I’ve been meaning to actually post a review of it for years, though, since I still talk about it pretty regularly. I’ve mentioned it in several list posts.
So what makes it so special? Wow. Well, I love the spiritual journey. Christy relates her faith in this unassuming, humble way, and it comes across so genuinely. I feel like you could argue that the whole young protégé learning from an older, wiser woman has been done lots before, but for some reason, it never bothered me in this book. I think because it just feels so organic to me. Every time I read the book I get lost in Christy’s journey, and it makes me want to love others more and open myself to a deeper spiritual life.
I love the colorful cast of characters, especially the people of Cutter Gap. Fairlight Spencer, Christy’s best friend in the Cove, and Ruby Mae, with her chattering and adoration for Christy. I always catch myself grinning in the scene about Creed Allen and his raccoon and when the doctor gives Christy a hard time about her overly keen sense of smell.
For me, listening to the story gave me a little more distance, so for the first time I feel like I was able to step back and see the story as a whole a bit more. Usually I’m so caught up in each moment and each relationship that I feel like I don’t get to see the Cove as a whole and the arch of Christy’s journey that first year as a teacher. I still wish there was more to the story. I still cry every time the typhoid epidemic begins. I still get all teary at the end. Every. Time. Can’t help it, I guess.
Maybe because of the age that I was when I first read Christy but I feel like this is a great book for kids in seventh and eighth grade. Certainly it’s a great read for teens and adults alike, but there’s something about those early teen days that make me feel like this story is a great fit for the age. I guess it’s because Christy is very much on the journey toward understanding who she is and how she fits into her larger community, and that journey seems to begin for a lot of people in their early teens.
I absolutely recommend this book. As I’ve said, it’s one of my favorites, and has been for years (let’s not say how many). I love it so much. If you’ve read it and want to chat about it, YES! Let’s. If you haven’t read it, then go read it. And then let’s chat about it! Haha. But yes, read it.
Major characters are white.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Some brief kissing. Christy attends a Cove wedding at which the bride and groom celebrate with a couple of more crude traditions – descriptions are brief and very vague.
Christy learns about one woman’s past in which she was sexually abused and assaulted by a family friend. Details are vague, but sensitive readers may still find this triggering.
Christy volunteers to teach school in Cutter Gap after hearing a missionary speak at her church. She believes she’s been moved by God to be part of the mission school, but learns through her experience at Cutter Gap how little real love and selflessness she possesses on her own. Through mentorship with Alice Henderson, another mission worker, and her experience with the mountain people, she begins to develop a deeper faith and spiritual life which overflows into the way she loves and serves others.
Christy witnesses and deals with some schoolyard fighting in which children get injured, sometimes by bigger kids. A couple of people get shot, one fatally so.
Men create a moonshine still in the Cove, which is against the law. A few scenes show people drinking alcohol or drunk. In one scene, a teen bride and groom drink alcohol with their friends. Christy feels very negatively about this and does not drink alcohol herself except at one point when the doctor offers her brandy “medicinally.”