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Nestled in the Appalachian mountains, Owsley County is the poorest county in Kentucky and the second poorest in the country. Buildings are crumbling and fields sit vacant, as tobacco farming and coal mining decline. But strong women are finding creative ways to subsist in their hollers in the hills. Chambers grew up amidst these hollers, and through the women who raised her, she traces her own path out of and back into the Kentucky mountains. With her "hill women" values guiding her, Chambers graduated from Harvard Law, but moved back home to help her fellow rural Kentucky women by providing free legal services. Here she breaks down the myth of the "hillbilly" and illuminates a region whose poor communities, especially women, can lead it into the future. -- adapted from jacket
After rising from poverty to earn two Ivy League degrees, an Appalachian lawyer pays tribute to the strong “hill women” who raised and inspired her, and whose values have the potential to rejuvenate a struggling region. “Destined to be compared to Hillbilly Elegy and Educated.”—BookPage (starred review) “Poverty is enmeshed with pride in these stories of survival.”—Associated Press Nestled in the Appalachian mountains, Owsley County is one of the poorest counties in both Kentucky and the country. Buildings are crumbling and fields sit vacant, as tobacco farming and coal mining decline. But strong women are finding creative ways to subsist in their hollers in the hills. Cassie Chambers grew up in these hollers and, through the women who raised her, she traces her own path out of and back into the Kentucky mountains. Chambers’s Granny was a child bride who rose before dawn every morning to raise seven children. Despite her poverty, she wouldn’t hesitate to give the last bite of pie or vegetables from her garden to a struggling neighbor. Her two daughters took very different paths: strong-willed Ruth—the hardest-working tobacco farmer in the county—stayed on the family farm, while spirited Wilma—the sixth child—became the first in the family to graduate from high school, then moved an hour away for college. Married at nineteen and pregnant with Cassie a few months later, Wilma beat the odds to finish school. She raised her daughter to think she could move mountains, like the ones that kept her safe but also isolated her from the larger world. Cassie would spend much of her childhood with Granny and Ruth in the hills of Owsley County, both while Wilma was in college and after. With her “hill women” values guiding her, Cassie went on to graduate from Harvard Law. But while the Ivy League gave her knowledge and opportunities, its privileged world felt far from her reality, and she moved back home to help her fellow rural Kentucky women by providing free legal services. Appalachian women face issues that are all too common: domestic violence, the opioid crisis, a world that seems more divided by the day. But they are also community leaders, keeping their towns together in the face of a system that continually fails them. With nuance and heart, Chambers uses these women’s stories paired with her own journey to break down the myth of the hillbilly and illuminate a region whose poor communities, especially women, can lead it into the future.
After rising from poverty to earn two Ivy League degrees, an Appalachian lawyer pays tribute to the strong "hill women" who raised and inspired her, and whose values have the potential to rejuvenate a struggling region--an uplifting and eye-opening memoir for readers of Hillbilly Elegy and Educated. Nestled in the Appalachian mountains, Owsley County is one of the poorest counties in both Kentucky and the country. Buildings are crumbling and fields sit vacant, as tobacco farming and coal mining decline. But strong women are finding creative ways to subsist in their hollers in the hills. Cassie Chambers grew up in these hollers and, through the women who raised her, she traces her own path out of and back into the Kentucky mountains. Chambers's Granny was a child bride who rose before dawn every morning to raise seven children. Despite her poverty, she wouldn't hesitate to give the last bite of pie or vegetables from her garden to a struggling neighbor. Her two daughters took very different paths: strong-willed Ruth--the hardest-working tobacco farmer in the county--stayed on the family farm, while spirited Wilma--the sixth child--became the first in the family to graduate from high school, then moved an hour away for college. Married at nineteen and pregnant with Cassie a few months later, Wilma beat the odds to finish school. She raised her daughter to think she could move mountains, like the ones that kept her safe but also isolated her from the larger world. Cassie would spend much of her childhood with Granny and Ruth in the hills of Owsley County, both while Wilma was in college and after. With her "hill women" values guiding her, Cassie went on to graduate from Harvard Law. But while the Ivy League gave her knowledge and opportunities, its privileged world felt far from her reality, and she moved back home to help her fellow rural Kentucky women by providing free legal services. Appalachian women face issues that are all too common: domestic violence, the opioid crisis, a world that seems more divided by the day. But they are also community leaders, keeping their towns together in the face of a system that continually fails them. With nuance and heart, Chambers uses these women's stories paired with her own journey to break down the myth of the hillbilly and illuminate a region whose poor communities, especially women, can lead it into the future.
Book Appalachian Mountain Girl Description/Summary:
Appalachian Mountain Girl is a sensitive and beautifully written autobiographical account of a childhood in the coalmine district of Depression-era Kentucky. With humor and warmth—but without sentimentality—Rhoda Warren recounts the lives of these mining people whose religion and family values buttressed and sustained them. As a young girl, Rhoda began to catch glimpses of the world outside her narrow mountain community through the stories in True Confessions magazine and the pictures in the Montgomery Ward catalog—which to her seemed like “visions of a fairy world.” When Rhoda married and moved to a small town in New York State, it seemed that her dreams of a better life had been realized. Yet scenes of Letcher always “hovered in the back roads of her memory.” When she revisited her homeland, this time as a New Yorker, Rhoda found that Letcher was no longer the place of her memories.
THE #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER IS NOW A MAJOR-MOTION PICTURE DIRECTED BY RON HOWARD AND STARRING AMY ADAMS, GLENN CLOSE, AND GABRIEL BASSO "You will not read a more important book about America this year."—The Economist "A riveting book."—The Wall Street Journal "Essential reading."—David Brooks, New York Times Hillbilly Elegy is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis—that of white working-class Americans. The disintegration of this group, a process that has been slowly occurring now for more than forty years, has been reported with growing frequency and alarm, but has never before been written about as searingly from the inside. J. D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hung around your neck. The Vance family story begins hopefully in postwar America. J. D.’s grandparents were “dirt poor and in love,” and moved north from Kentucky’s Appalachia region to Ohio in the hopes of escaping the dreadful poverty around them. They raised a middle-class family, and eventually one of their grandchildren would graduate from Yale Law School, a conventional marker of success in achieving generational upward mobility. But as the family saga of Hillbilly Elegy plays out, we learn that J.D.'s grandparents, aunt, uncle, sister, and, most of all, his mother struggled profoundly with the demands of their new middle-class life, never fully escaping the legacy of abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and trauma so characteristic of their part of America. With piercing honesty, Vance shows how he himself still carries around the demons of his chaotic family history. A deeply moving memoir, with its share of humor and vividly colorful figures, Hillbilly Elegy is the story of how upward mobility really feels. And it is an urgent and troubling meditation on the loss of the American dream for a large segment of this country.
How the United States underdeveloped Appalachia In Ramp Hollow, Steven Stoll offers a fresh, provocative account of Appalachia, and why it matters. He begins with the earliest European settlers, whose desire for vast forests to hunt in was frustrated by absentee owners—including George Washington and other founders—who laid claim to the region. Even as Daniel Boone became famous as a backwoods hunter and guide, the economy he represented was already in peril. Within just a few decades, Appalachian hunters and farmers went from pioneers to pariahs, from heroes to hillbillies, in the national imagination, and the area was locked into an enduring association with poverty and backwardness. Stoll traces these developments with empathy and precision, examining crucial episodes such as the Whiskey Rebellion, the founding of West Virginia, and the arrival of timber and coal companies that set off a devastating “scramble for Appalachia.” At the center of Ramp Hollow is Stoll’s sensitive portrayal of Appalachian homesteads. Perched upon ridges and tucked into hollows, they combined small-scale farming and gardening with expansive foraging and hunting, along with distilling and trading, to achieve self-sufficiency and resist the dependence on cash and credit arising elsewhere in the United States. But the industrialization of the mountains shattered the ecological balance that sustained the households. Ramp Hollow recasts the story of Appalachia as a complex struggle between mountaineers and profit-seeking forces from outside the region. Drawing powerful connections between Appalachia and other agrarian societies around the world, Stoll demonstrates the vitality of a peasant way of life that mixes farming with commerce but is not dominated by a market mind-set. His original investigation, ranging widely from history to literature, art, and economics, questions our assumptions about progress and development, and exposes the devastating legacy of dispossession and its repercussions today.
Book In the Shadow of the Valley Description/Summary:
A clear-eyed and compassionate memoir of the Appalachian experience by a woman who embraced its astonishing beauty, narrowly escaped its violence, and struggles to call it home. Bobi Conn was raised in a remote Kentucky holler in 1980s Appalachia. She remembers her tin-roofed house tucked away in a vast forest paradise; the sparkling creeks, with their frogs and crawdads; the sweet blackberries growing along the road to her granny's; and her abusive father, an underemployed alcoholic whose untethered rage and violence against Bobi and her mother were frighteningly typical of a community marginalized, desperate, and ignored. Bobi's rule of survival: always be vigilant but endure it silently. Slipping away from home, Bobi went to college and got a white-collar job. Mistrusted by her family for her progress and condescended to by peers for her accent and her history, she was followed by the markers of her class. Though she carried her childhood self everywhere, Bobi also finally found her voice. An elegiac account of survival despite being born poor, female, and cloistered, Bobi's testament is one of hope for all vulnerable populations, particularly women and girls caught in the cycle of poverty and abuse. On a continual path to worth, autonomy, and reinvention, Conn proves here that "the storyteller is the one with power."
“Mining companies piled trash coal in a slag heap and set it ablaze. The coal burned up, but the slate didn’t. The heat turned it rose and orange and lavender. The dirt road I lived on was paved with that sharp-edged rock. We called it Red Dog. My grandmother always told me, ‘Don’t you go running on that Red Dog road.’ But oh, I did.” Gypsies, faith-healers, moonshiners, and snake handlers weave through Drema’s childhood in 1940s Appalachia after Drema’s father is killed in the coal mines, her mother goes off to work as a Rosie the Riveter, and she is left in the care of devout Pentecostal grandparents. What follows is a spitfire of a memoir that reads like a novel with intrigue, sweeping emotion, and indisputable charm. Drema’s coming of age is colored by tent revivals with Grandpa, jitterbug lessons, and traveling carnivals, and though it all, she serves witness to a multi-generational family of saints and sinners whose lives defy the stereotypes. Just as she defies her own. Running On Red Dog Road is proof that truth is stranger than fiction, especially when it comes to life and faith in an Appalachian childhood.
Book Don't Tell'em You're Cold Description/Summary:
Don't Tell'em You're Cold: a Memoir of Poverty and Resilience is an uplifting story of survival from abject poverty, set in the hills and coal camps of southern West Virginia. Katherine Manley and her family faced extreme challenges and struggles with ingenuity and traditional Appalachian stoicism. Beyond the poverty, other obstacles compounded Katherine's life: a severely disabled father, and a mother who struggled with the day-to-day survival. On a cool October morning, she left in a taxi and never returned, leaving 14-year-old Katherine to take care of her father and raise her siblings in her mother's stead. Katherine went on to become an award-winning teacher, paying forward her hard-learned lessons to thousands of lucky students. This is a story of triumph that encourages everyone to never give up.
The diaries of a remarkable young woman who was determined to live a meaningful and happy life despite her struggle with cystic fibrosis and a rare superbug—from age fifteen to her death at the age of twenty-five “An exquisitely nuanced chronicle of a terrified but hopeful young woman whose life was beginning and ending, all at once.”—Los Angeles Times Diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at the age of three, Mallory Smith grew up to be a determined, talented young woman who inspired others even as she privately raged against her illness. Despite the daily challenges of endless medical treatments and a deep understanding that she’d never lead a normal life, Mallory was determined to “Live Happy,” a mantra she followed until her death. Mallory worked hard to make the most out of the limited time she had, graduating Phi Beta Kappa from Stanford University, becoming a cystic fibrosis advocate well known in the CF community, and embarking on a career as a professional writer. Along the way, she cultivated countless intimate friendships and ultimately found love. For more than ten years, Mallory recorded her thoughts and observations about struggles and feelings too personal to share during her life, leaving instructions for her mother to publish her work posthumously. She hoped that her writing would offer insight to those living with, or loving someone with, chronic illness. What emerges is a powerful and inspiring portrait of a brave young woman and blossoming writer who did not allow herself to be defined by disease. Her words offer comfort and hope to readers, even as she herself was facing death. Salt in My Soul is a beautifully crafted, intimate, and poignant tribute to a short life well lived—and a call for all of us to embrace our own lives as fully as possible.
“This book tells what it means to be a woman when you are poor, when you are proud, and when you are a hillbilly.” First published in 1973, Skye Moody’s Hillbilly Women shares the stunning and raw oral histories of nineteen women in twentieth-century Southern Appalachia, from their day-to-day struggles for survival to the personal triumphs of their hardscrabble existence. They are wives, widows, and daughters of coal miners; factory hands, tobacco graders, cotton mill workers, and farmers; and women who value honest labor, self-esteem, and dignity. Shining a much-needed light into a misunderstood culture and identity, the stories within reflect the universally human struggle to live meaningful and dignified lives. Updated with a new introduction and material from the author.
Set in rural New York state at the turn of the twentieth century, superb new talent James Scott makes his literary debut with The Kept—a propulsive novel reminiscent of the works of Michael Ondaatje, Cormac McCarthy, and Bonnie Jo Campbell, in which a mother and her young son embark on a quest to avenge a terrible and violent tragedy that has shattered their secluded family. In the winter of 1897, a trio of killers descends upon an isolated farm in upstate New York. Midwife Elspeth Howell returns home to the carnage: her husband, and four of her children, murdered. Before she can discover her remaining son Caleb, alive and hiding in the kitchen pantry, another shot rings out over the snow-covered valley. Twelve-year-old Caleb must tend to his mother until she recovers enough for them to take to the frozen wilderness in search of the men responsible. A scorching portrait of a merciless world—of guilt and lost innocence, atonement and retribution, resilience and sacrifice, pregnant obsession and primal adolescence—The Kept introduces an old-beyond-his-years protagonist as indelible and heartbreaking as Mattie Ross of True Grit or Jimmy Blevins of All the Pretty Horses, as well as a shape-shifting mother as enigmatic and mysterious as a character drawn by Russell Banks or Marilynne Robinson.
Trained as a nurse and midwife, Elizabeth Evans never wanted to help set up the fledgling town of Aspen Coulee, Alberta, but travels there with her father when he agrees to become the town doctor. Housekeeper at the Evans’ house, Ann Montgomery hoped to keep all her San Francisco secrets locked in her ancient wedding chest. It is 1907, and the Canadian Pacific Railway is driving the engine of the west. Against the fluid backdrop of the Canadian prairies, For a Modest Fee is a story about the women of the era and the expectations that made them the primary caretakers of not only their own families, but of the entire town. A hundred years ago, choices for women were few; married or single, they all stepped into the roles thrust upon them. For a Modest Fee is a fascinating novel that looks at the evolution, in a few short years, of a prairie town from windblown wilderness to a fitting place for flowerboxes and school recitals.
Following his acclaimed New York Times bestseller Did You Ever Have a Family, Bill Clegg returns with a “delicate, deeply observed, and deftly crafted” (Nickolas Butler, author of Shotgun Lovesongs) second novel about the complicated bonds and breaking points of friendship, the corrosive forces of secrets, the heartbeat of longing, and the redemption found in forgiveness. A retired widow in rural Connecticut wakes to an unexpected visit from her childhood best friend whom she hasn’t seen in forty-nine years. A man arrives at a Pennsylvania hotel to introduce his estranged father to his newborn daughter and finds him collapsed on the floor of the lobby. A sixty-seven-year-old taxi driver in Kauai receives a phone call from the mainland that jars her back to a traumatic past. These seemingly disconnected lives come together as half-century-old secrets begin to surface. It is in this moment that Bill Clegg reminds us how choices—to connect, to betray, to protect—become our legacy. “Written in lyrical, beautiful prose that makes even waking up seem like a poetic event” (Good Morning America), this novel is a feat of storytelling, capturing sixty years within the framework of one fateful day.
Book Tales of the Madman Underground Description/Summary:
Wednesday, September 5, 1973: The first day of Karl Shoemaker's senior year in stifling Lightsburg, Ohio. For years, Karl's been part of what he calls "the Madman Underground" - a group of kids forced (for no apparent reason) to attend group therapy during school hours. Karl has decided that senior year is going to be different. He is going to get out of the Madman Underground for good. He is going to act - and be - Normal. But Normal, of course, is relative. Karl has five after-school jobs, one dead father, one seriously unhinged drunk mother . . . and a huge attitude. Welcome to a gritty, uncensored rollercoaster ride, narrated by the singular Karl Shoemaker.
The train taking nineteen-year-old teacher Christy Huddleston from her home in Asheville, North Carolina, might as well be transporting her to another world. The Smoky Mountain community of Cutter Gap feels suspended in time, trapped by poverty, superstitions, and century-old traditions. But as Christy struggles to find acceptance in her new home, some see her — and her one-room school — as a threat to their way of life. Her faith is challenged and her heart is torn between two strong men with conflicting views about how to care for the families of the Cove. Yearning to make a difference, will Christy’s determination and devotion be enough?
"Should appeal to all rugged individualists who dream of escape to the forest."—The New York Times Book Review Sam Gribley is terribly unhappy living in New York City with his family, so he runs away to the Catskill Mountains to live in the woods—all by himself. With only a penknife, a ball of cord, forty dollars, and some flint and steel, he intends to survive on his own. Sam learns about courage, danger, and independence during his year in the wilderness, a year that changes his life forever. “An extraordinary book . . . It will be read year after year.” —The Horn Book
This distinctive collection introduces a new type of mythmaking, daring in its marriage of fairy tale tropes with American mundanities. Conspiratorial, Goodbye, Flicker describes the interior life of a girl whose prince is a deadbeat dad and whose escape into a fantasy world is also an escape into language, beauty, and the surreal.
Book The Shadows of Appalachia Description/Summary:
Born in 1928, Mary Bremier has a remarkably keen eye, both for the beauty of her natural world and for the telling details of human frailty. The Shadows of Appalachia has a deft, musical voice that recalls the regional dialect as well as the songs, sayings, and prayers that shaped her Depression-era childhood. Her gentle irony lays bare the mindset of her hardworking, proud, ignorant, doomed-to-failure, beloved Appalachian family. The Appalachian culture, the same subject as Hillbilly Elegy, is expanded upon in The Shadows of Appalachia with empathy, a rich cast of characters, and some laugh-out-loud humor. The action and setting have similarities to Little House on the Prairie, although it is more nuanced and at times dark, with adult themes. This is a book about the power of language, and how education offers a route out and away from the limitations of narrow-mindedness. Young Mary, silenced and shamed by her mother, is also crippled by dyslexia. Her unconventional education results in her facile, engaging ability to play with words, and reveals how Mary ultimately thrives. After the tragic loss of her husband and young daughter, Mary returns to Appalachia to resolve her conflict with her painful past, her family's shortcomings, and the death of a way of life.