LUM by Libby Ware
She Writes Press
October 20, 2015
Paperback; 224 pages
In 1933 in the Shenandoah Valley, there isn’t a place for Lum (short for Columbia), a 33-year-old intersex woman. She travels by schedule from one branch of the family to another, assisting with cooking, child care and housework. Always an outsider, even in her own family, Lum secretly collects postcards of people like the Dog-faced Girl, imagining their stories, and nurtures her lifelong friendship with Smiley, an African-American man who sells furniture, odds-and-ends, and a little moonshine.
But Lum’s world changes when a local banker becomes ill and needs care. Sent to assist, she forms an unlikely friendship with the curmudgeonly old man. At the same time, the federal highway administration comes scouting land, wanting to buy the family farm for a new scenic highway. Lum’s brothers don’t want to sell, and they’re not alone. But the Blue Ridge Parkway offers an opportunity for Lum to get a job—something she has longed to do.
As tensions over the highway escalate toward violence, and as hearts are exposed, Lum takes a bold step to create an independent and happy life.
In LUM, Libby Ware introduces an unforgettable character and gives readers an engrossing and moving story about outsiders, race, history, and hope.
Praise for LUM
"Lum is an engaging portrait of a village in the Virginia Blue Ridge during the Great Depression. Lum's courageous journey to selfhood is profound and moving, and a metaphor for the process of self-acceptance necessary for anyone who doesn't fit into traditional social norms."—Lisa Alther, author of Kinfolks
"Libby Ware has written with a rich new southern voice and captured the dying art of storytelling in her debut novel."—Ann Hite, author of the award-winning Ghost on Black Mountain
". . . a treat for those who appreciate character-centered historical fiction. Lum’s courageous journey toward independence makes her a heroine worth fighting for, and readers will find themselves missing her company after the final page turns."—Historical Novels Review
About the Author
Libby Ware is a native of West Virginia, and she feels most at home in the Appalachian mountains, although she has made her home in Atlanta, Georgia for more than 30 years. She is the owner of Toadlily Books, an antiquarian and collectible book business. Her short story, "The Circuit," (the beginning of LUM in slightly different form) was a finalist for the Poets and Writers Award for Georgia Writers, judged by Jennifer Egan. She is a member of Georgia Antiquarian Booksellers Association, the Atlanta Writers Club, and the Georgia Writers Association and is a fellow of The Hambidge Center for Creative Arts and Sciences.