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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; t 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.”


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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; t 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.”

30 review for In the Shadow of the Valley: A Memoir

  1. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    Over all, this book would have benefitted from some serious editing. The story, heartbreakingly sad and difficult, is told in such a haphazard and circuitous way that it is almost impossible to build up any kind of righteous anger or sympathy, or feeling for the author and her plight. Conn’s prose is accomplished, even luminous in places, but the storytelling is uneven - too much detail in places, and then pieces of the story which needed to be fleshed out were left with no clarification of even Over all, this book would have benefitted from some serious editing. The story, heartbreakingly sad and difficult, is told in such a haphazard and circuitous way that it is almost impossible to build up any kind of righteous anger or sympathy, or feeling for the author and her plight. Conn’s prose is accomplished, even luminous in places, but the storytelling is uneven - too much detail in places, and then pieces of the story which needed to be fleshed out were left with no clarification of events. A good portion of the book reads like the standard phrases offered and encouraged by therapists - not a bad thing, but these stock ideas can’t replace deep feeling, which I felt was also missing from the narrative - perhaps because it was told in a looping repetitive way which detracted from the build-up of emotion. I commend the author for overcoming a difficult childhood, and for writing it down and putting out into the world, which is never an easy thing to do - this was an interesting look at a difficult life, but not as compelling a story as it may have been with some careful editing.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Valerity (Val)

    I found this to be an interesting memoir by Bobi Conn, who grew up in small town Kentucky. It’s actually a holler in Kentucky, growing up with her dysfunctional family, she shares what it was like, along with the beauty of the area. She also shares what her life is like later, as she struggles to have a better life, going to college, then teaching. Not letting life suck her under. An interesting voice.. I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway, in a Kindle edition. Published by Little A.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Darcia Helle

    So, wow. This book packs one hell of an emotional punch. Bobi Conn writes with an intimacy and raw honesty that I felt to my core. She's unflinchingly honest about her upbringing and the way those early years chased her through adulthood. I have immense respect both for her writing skills and for her willingness to lay it all out for us to see. Appalachia comes alive on these pages, with its isolation, beauty, poverty, and unique culture. My heart broke for Bobi as a child, but also for the adults So, wow. This book packs one hell of an emotional punch. Bobi Conn writes with an intimacy and raw honesty that I felt to my core. She's unflinchingly honest about her upbringing and the way those early years chased her through adulthood. I have immense respect both for her writing skills and for her willingness to lay it all out for us to see. Appalachia comes alive on these pages, with its isolation, beauty, poverty, and unique culture. My heart broke for Bobi as a child, but also for the adults so completely trapped by their circumstances. We humans are all too quick to judge those we consider "other," simply because we don't understand them. With this book, Conn lets us step inside a culture that has been closed off for most of us, and in doing so she shows us the humanity behind the stereotype.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Steve Whitworth

    Although I had my own familial challenges growing up, the author’s situation was exponentially worse. However, the narrative of blaming her life situation and background instead of either learning from her mistakes or taking personal responsibility for her actions became tiring. I have trouble believing anyone can be as naive as she claims. Two examples: 1. She just had no idea that, as a mother and a woman in her twenties, that sitting naked in front of men would cause men to look at her a cert Although I had my own familial challenges growing up, the author’s situation was exponentially worse. However, the narrative of blaming her life situation and background instead of either learning from her mistakes or taking personal responsibility for her actions became tiring. I have trouble believing anyone can be as naive as she claims. Two examples: 1. She just had no idea that, as a mother and a woman in her twenties, that sitting naked in front of men would cause men to look at her a certain way and upset her boyfriend at the time; 2. She had no idea that giving her address to two strangers in a bar so they could maybe come over later would upset her boyfriend at the time and possibly lead to unwanted circumstances. The book is full of stuff like this, and I just have a hard time believing that she could be that unassuming and naive. It is most always interesting reading about people overcoming terrible experiences and I am glad the author persevered and obtained college degrees. I’m sure she had to overcome much to get to where she is today and is to be commended for trying to break the cycle of poverty for her family unit.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kymberli Ward

    While I commend the author for persevering and achieving some success in her life, "In the Shadow of the Valley" was not a book I will recommend. Her childhood was horrific and for that, she most definitely has my empathy (yes, I said "empathy," not sympathy). And since she has accomplished much, I wonder at the vitriol she expresses toward pharmaceutical companies, government programs, etc., with regard to the Appalachian region. It may not appear so to the author, but the same dynamics take pl While I commend the author for persevering and achieving some success in her life, "In the Shadow of the Valley" was not a book I will recommend. Her childhood was horrific and for that, she most definitely has my empathy (yes, I said "empathy," not sympathy). And since she has accomplished much, I wonder at the vitriol she expresses toward pharmaceutical companies, government programs, etc., with regard to the Appalachian region. It may not appear so to the author, but the same dynamics take place in major cities and many rural areas all over the country, to suggest a few examples. It is curious that the very institutions that receive Ms. Conn's outrage are those which (I'm guessing) provided medical care, surgeries, food stamps, etc., for her "granny" and others. That is not to minimize the overprescribing of opiates … that's a horror most worthy of her (and many, many others') outrage. However, I found the book to be very repetitive and, in several places where some clarity would have been welcome, there was none. She calls it her story and her history, yet there is very little history provided. I get it … my father was first generation and my grandparents did not talk about where they came from, how they survived, what happened … no, it simply was not spoken of. As I read, I kept thinking that when I turned the next page, there would be some answers, some clarification, but it never materialized. "In the Shadow of the Valley" is not a bad book. It does not, in my opinion, meet expectations.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Vonda

    A memoir set in the Appalacians that shows even with a terrible childhood, if you perservere and work hard you can still get ahead in life. This one just read a little too "poor me" for my liking. A memoir set in the Appalacians that shows even with a terrible childhood, if you perservere and work hard you can still get ahead in life. This one just read a little too "poor me" for my liking.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Ann-Marie

    I read a fair number of memoirs by women who have grown up in poverty and abuse. I think I am often trying to find a connection to my own mother who was raised in deprivation and neglect during the Depression. Many of these memoirs have a problem. Either they excuse their parents' misbehavior and weightlessness or they completely cast one or both parents as the devil incarnate, responsible for every untoward thing that happens to them forever. Bobi Conn is clear eyed. She sees her parents for w I read a fair number of memoirs by women who have grown up in poverty and abuse. I think I am often trying to find a connection to my own mother who was raised in deprivation and neglect during the Depression. Many of these memoirs have a problem. Either they excuse their parents' misbehavior and weightlessness or they completely cast one or both parents as the devil incarnate, responsible for every untoward thing that happens to them forever. Bobi Conn is clear eyed. She sees her parents for what they were, the situation she was raised for one that no one was equipped to change. Her father, a violent substance abuser was stacked by too many personal demons to be trusted, her mother, beaten down by years of living under the thumb of this man herself. The community she lived in was one where the rule was to mind your own business. Through personal strength, love of certain peripheral people in her life and a driving intellectual creativity, Conn survived. She is not able to understand everything that drove her parents to live the way they did, but she gained enough self awareness to assure that she and her children were much less likely to make the same mistakes. I received this book free from Goodreads in exchange for an honest review.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Norma Endersby

    What a gut-wrenching story of how one little girl survived a childhood of abuse, desperate for love and acceptance. I couldn't put this book down; instead, reading it in one sitting, not unlike being unable to turn away from an accident. The whole time I thought there, but for the grace of God, go I. My childhood was not particularly happy; fond memories are few and far between. I, too, knew poverty and what it was like not to have the things other children had ... to be looked down on ... but n What a gut-wrenching story of how one little girl survived a childhood of abuse, desperate for love and acceptance. I couldn't put this book down; instead, reading it in one sitting, not unlike being unable to turn away from an accident. The whole time I thought there, but for the grace of God, go I. My childhood was not particularly happy; fond memories are few and far between. I, too, knew poverty and what it was like not to have the things other children had ... to be looked down on ... but not Appalachian poverty, which makes me now realize how rich we really were by comparison. I also excelled in school because that was where I received and earned things my mother couldn't give me, i.e., self respect and self worth. Unlike Bobi, my mouth was my worst enemy as I vented perceived inequities and hurts to whomever would listen; however, the best part was it also saved me many times. I wish her every happiness and security in what is surely literary success. Her story will stay with me for a long time.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    I hate when good writing gets ruined by bad editing (or maybe a lack of editing). Conn's memoir is about her life growing up in a holler in Kentucky with an abusive father. She does a wonderful job being honest about how this abuse affected her as a child and then all the way into adulthood. She doesn't shy away from painful truths about her family (which is riddled with drug abuse and violence) and is able to make insightful connections about how generations of trauma and addiction have impacte I hate when good writing gets ruined by bad editing (or maybe a lack of editing). Conn's memoir is about her life growing up in a holler in Kentucky with an abusive father. She does a wonderful job being honest about how this abuse affected her as a child and then all the way into adulthood. She doesn't shy away from painful truths about her family (which is riddled with drug abuse and violence) and is able to make insightful connections about how generations of trauma and addiction have impacted everyone. However, there were some events that seemed significant that were swept over (sometimes maddeningly so), while other memories were bogged down in too much detail. In a book that's otherwise overtly honest, it felt confusing to leave out major events (how she decided to stop using substances herself, who the father of her daughter was, for example). I think a stronger editing job would have ironed out these downfalls, and then the reader would have been able to just inhabit her world a little better. Unfortunately, because the book seemed uneven and way too long, I couldn't fall in love with the memoir like I would have liked. Readers should check out "Educated" by Tara Westover for an example of a memoir with similar subject matter that just seemed to work way better than this one. But I still tip my hat to Conn for being brave enough to tell her story. *Free ARC provided by Netgalley and Little A in exchange for an honest review*

  10. 5 out of 5

    Craig

    My true rating : 2.4 stars. Since this is a biography, I want to say the value of people’s lives is 5 stars, always. I did not grow up poor or with violent family, and I was never hurt purposely growing up. I think that violence might change my perception. However, this book was written so negatively. Conn would write about her failure upon failure, and her negative view of life, even when I didn’t perceive the failure or negative view. I kind of feel depression is laced within the words; I imag My true rating : 2.4 stars. Since this is a biography, I want to say the value of people’s lives is 5 stars, always. I did not grow up poor or with violent family, and I was never hurt purposely growing up. I think that violence might change my perception. However, this book was written so negatively. Conn would write about her failure upon failure, and her negative view of life, even when I didn’t perceive the failure or negative view. I kind of feel depression is laced within the words; I imagine it’s the result of her trauma. I wish she had more reason for finding joy from her Granny, who she said loved her very much, who she was close with. Sometimes she would say something like, ‘Granny couldn’t help because I didn’t want her help.’ There is no hope, until the last chapter, and i felt it to be rushed. I think her life had more value that she did. I thought it was a book more about the hollers of Kentucky. It was more about the violence and drug addiction that so many in the area deal with.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jodi Coon

    I wanted to like this book, but it was so repetitive. I love memoirs and books about the south and Appalachia, but this book could have been half the length and still made the same point. I do have a lot of respect for the author — her story is tragic no doubt and I’m happy she made it out and was able to write about it.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Rotkiewicz

    I appreciate this book for it's therapeutic value it had for the author. She told her powerful story well - she's a talented writer and has done a lot of work to get to where she is today and to process so much of her trauma. I only have it three starts, though, because of how dark this story was and I wasn't expecting that. The description didn't do it justice - honestly - I probably wouldn't have read it if I had known how dark it was going to be. I also was expecting more of the anthropologic I appreciate this book for it's therapeutic value it had for the author. She told her powerful story well - she's a talented writer and has done a lot of work to get to where she is today and to process so much of her trauma. I only have it three starts, though, because of how dark this story was and I wasn't expecting that. The description didn't do it justice - honestly - I probably wouldn't have read it if I had known how dark it was going to be. I also was expecting more of the anthropological perspective the description seems to promise. Yes, she talked about it some, but there didn't seem to be much here that couldn't have happened (and does) in any poor, underresourced, undereducated community. I wanted more of what made this story unique to Appalachia.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Carrie

    There are parts of this book that are beautifully written; the description of the hills and woods of Appalachia are wonderful. Although there is cruelty in this book, it is told in a way that makes it somehow bearable; hard to read, for sure, but the perpetrator of the cruelty is not villainized. This is important because to understand you have to find characters relatable, even the villains. However, the book was uneven, and I felt the editors could have done more to make the memoir tighter. Th There are parts of this book that are beautifully written; the description of the hills and woods of Appalachia are wonderful. Although there is cruelty in this book, it is told in a way that makes it somehow bearable; hard to read, for sure, but the perpetrator of the cruelty is not villainized. This is important because to understand you have to find characters relatable, even the villains. However, the book was uneven, and I felt the editors could have done more to make the memoir tighter. There are lots of unnamed friends and circuitous stories that made me lose focus at times.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Rick

    This is one of the best books, in my opinion, to come out of Amazon's publishing imprints. It's filled with wisdom, heartbreak, despair, joy...and hope. It's a portrayal of the resiliency of the human spirit and, while it chronicles one woman's growth, it's a story I believe we can all relate to. We're all broken and we can all find our paths on this journey we call life. Bobi Conn, I can't wait to read what you write next. This is one of the best books, in my opinion, to come out of Amazon's publishing imprints. It's filled with wisdom, heartbreak, despair, joy...and hope. It's a portrayal of the resiliency of the human spirit and, while it chronicles one woman's growth, it's a story I believe we can all relate to. We're all broken and we can all find our paths on this journey we call life. Bobi Conn, I can't wait to read what you write next.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Maureen

    The author completely lost the thread at the 75% point. Finishing this book was frustrating and a slog. Have no idea even how this ended up on my list but definitely don’t recommend.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sandy

    "We walk through the world as if we are part of it, but our anguish constantly reminds us that the world neither loves nor wants things that are broken." Bobi Conn's memoir is about being broken and, for the most part unloved and unwanted. The abuse she suffers at the hands of her father may have not been unusual in Kentucky in the 1980's, but that did not make it any less painful to read about. The only saving grace in her young life was her Granny, but she could not keep the girl safe. The boo "We walk through the world as if we are part of it, but our anguish constantly reminds us that the world neither loves nor wants things that are broken." Bobi Conn's memoir is about being broken and, for the most part unloved and unwanted. The abuse she suffers at the hands of her father may have not been unusual in Kentucky in the 1980's, but that did not make it any less painful to read about. The only saving grace in her young life was her Granny, but she could not keep the girl safe. The book is about growing up and escaping. But the escape is something that has an overwhelming resistance. "And in the effort to save myself from all that entails, I looked everywhere - at church, in therapy, drugs, men. It turns out that putting someone back together is such more difficult than keeping them whole in the first place." "It would be a long time before I felt like I deserved a love that didn't hurt." The writing was beautiful in many places and the story was compelling. But what was missing for me was exactly how the author went from her life of poverty and abuse to a college instructor and loving single mother. Even after leaving the holler and entering college, she did not succeed in breaking away from the drugs and self-destructive behavior. She alludes to therapy, but when that happened is a mystery. That whole process of her escape should have been an integral part of the memoir. We got the beginning and the end, but not so much the path between the two- the "putting someone back together."

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    I had high hopes for this Prime First reads pick but I abandoned it at about the 35% mark. I felt it had promise early on but it became apparent that it was a story in need of serious editing. The memories and events shared seemed disjointed, wandering, and many times confusing as to the timeline and order. Some details seemed misplaced and superfluous while others left me scratching my head and wondering if I missed something. I wanted to love it but it sadly fell short in delivery.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Anne

    Is it weird to say that a memoir was too self-absorbed? Because it seems like this one was.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Marzie

    In an often heartbreaking memoir, author Bobi Conn captures the hard life in the Kentucky Appalachia, where so many struggle with a lack of opportunity and education, which in turn, all too often leads to substance abuse, domestic abuse, and criminal pursuit. Conn, raised in a family rife with substance, sexual, and domestic abuse, found school to be a valuable escape, providing her with an opportunity to build a fragile sense of accomplishment and self-esteem. Her dedication and excelling at sc In an often heartbreaking memoir, author Bobi Conn captures the hard life in the Kentucky Appalachia, where so many struggle with a lack of opportunity and education, which in turn, all too often leads to substance abuse, domestic abuse, and criminal pursuit. Conn, raised in a family rife with substance, sexual, and domestic abuse, found school to be a valuable escape, providing her with an opportunity to build a fragile sense of accomplishment and self-esteem. Her dedication and excelling at school allowed her to escape the holler she was raised in and make her way to Berea College, eventually earning a master's degree and writing this memoir. It also created a schism in which her ability to bridge those two worlds- academia and the hollers she was raised in- finds her not quite fitting in either world. Judged for her accent and origins among "educated" people, she found her family and friends back home often reacted as if she now counted herself as better than them. Yet this memoir is a testament to the spirit and resilience of the people of the Appalachia, and in particular, a love letter to her grandmother, the one person in her life who offered her unconditional love and support. With insights into the origins of both substance abuse and the opioid crisis in the Appalachia, and the terrible cycle of domestic violence, child abuse, and child sexual abuse, Bobi Conn paints a stark and poignant account of her life and how PTSD has often robbed her of her ability to safeguard herself. Having worked in the child welfare system for almost fifteen years, I found her account of how repeated abuse robs you of your ability to either expect or demand better treatment, robs you of your voice to self-advocate, or of your ability envision a path to a different life for yourself, as painful as it is authentic. Conn did eventually find her path to a better life, in large part because of her determination to make her children's lives better. This memoir is not for the faint of heart. I strongly recommend the audiobook, narrated by the author herself. With shimmering descriptions of the beauty and hardships of life in rural Kentucky, Conn's memoir captures a slice of American life more of us should know.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jamie Jack

    A Story of Travails and Hope As I write this review during the coronavirus crisis, I find a book like this, which details one woman's journey from desperate circumstances in her childhood to success on her terms, to be uplifting and heartwarming, which is something I think we all need right now. She describes what happened to her with such honesty. Though the world she describes might seem foreign to those of us who have never lived in such a place or with those problems, her depiction of it make A Story of Travails and Hope As I write this review during the coronavirus crisis, I find a book like this, which details one woman's journey from desperate circumstances in her childhood to success on her terms, to be uplifting and heartwarming, which is something I think we all need right now. She describes what happened to her with such honesty. Though the world she describes might seem foreign to those of us who have never lived in such a place or with those problems, her depiction of it makes it very real, which of course it was for her. But not every author can describe what happened to them well; I think writing a memoir is one of the hardest things to do, especially when you have had a difficult past. But the author is good at just opening the vein, so to speak, and bringing us into her reality. Bobi Conn, I wish you well in all of your future endeavors. You deserve it! My book blog: https://www.readingfanaticreviews.com

  21. 4 out of 5

    Teresa

    I really enjoyed reading this and never wanted to put it down when I had to! Bobi’s story is compelling, relatable and brutally honest. I hope to see more from this brave and talented writer!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lori Anderson

    Very close to home, so a tough read for me.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jenny Clark

    This was a pretty uplifting story of puling oneself together after many traumas and mistakes. The writing flowed pretty well, but there were some parts that seamed ended abruptly, such as the younger siblings asking Bobi to get them out of foster care- I understand she may not have had much contact after, but what exactly happened to have them put in foster care? I also found parts to jump around chronologically which was confusing at times. Overall, it is a worth wile memoir to read, even with i This was a pretty uplifting story of puling oneself together after many traumas and mistakes. The writing flowed pretty well, but there were some parts that seamed ended abruptly, such as the younger siblings asking Bobi to get them out of foster care- I understand she may not have had much contact after, but what exactly happened to have them put in foster care? I also found parts to jump around chronologically which was confusing at times. Overall, it is a worth wile memoir to read, even with its few flaws.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Castro Riestra

    Bobi Conn is a storyteller. In her memoir, she recounts her history of abuse and troubled relationships. Her account of her difficult upbringing in eastern Kentucky is an eye-opening, first-person look at decades of gaslighting, of how a person can be made to doubt her own perceptions and be so deprived of agency and affection that refusal never crosses her mind. Conn made it out of the holler she grew up in, through college and graduate school, and into adulthood and parenthood. Along the way, Bobi Conn is a storyteller. In her memoir, she recounts her history of abuse and troubled relationships. Her account of her difficult upbringing in eastern Kentucky is an eye-opening, first-person look at decades of gaslighting, of how a person can be made to doubt her own perceptions and be so deprived of agency and affection that refusal never crosses her mind. Conn made it out of the holler she grew up in, through college and graduate school, and into adulthood and parenthood. Along the way, she struggles, seeking to make sense of her life and her family’s history by looking for fixity or surety in the definitions of elusive words. Now, she takes ownership of her person and story by being the one to tell it. Conn tells not only her story but also that of her family—by extension telling a part of the story of one of the most exploited and maligned regions of the country. It’s a difficult story of intergenerational trauma involving crime, drugs, and violence. Conn provides no easy answers; she does not dehumanize those whose behavior may look ugly to onlookers. Her love of the holler she grew up in remains throughout, even as she dissects the wounds left by history, class, and gender (masculine and feminine).

  25. 5 out of 5

    Brianna

    I did not know what to expect when I saw this book but I read the description and decided to go with it because I love Appalachia. Bobi! This book is wonderful. Way beyond any basic story of “mountain people”, this book truly touched my heart. Bobi so eloquently painted the picture of what it is like to grow up in an abusive home, having to deal with a lack of love and poverty. I absolutely loved how Bobi mentioned her “feminist” friends who wanted world peace but felt like people shouldn’t have I did not know what to expect when I saw this book but I read the description and decided to go with it because I love Appalachia. Bobi! This book is wonderful. Way beyond any basic story of “mountain people”, this book truly touched my heart. Bobi so eloquently painted the picture of what it is like to grow up in an abusive home, having to deal with a lack of love and poverty. I absolutely loved how Bobi mentioned her “feminist” friends who wanted world peace but felt like people shouldn’t have free healthcare if they smoke; there are so many people in this world who paint themselves one way but are the antithesis of their utopian ideal. This memoir is truly inspiring and I felt my heart swell when reading about Bobi wanting better for herself to show her children a healthy and loving home. There is a plethora of kind things I could say about this book but you should just read it to understand why I love it so much.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jamie Jack

    A Story of Travails and Hope As I write this review during the coronavirus crisis, I find a book like this, which details one woman's journey from desperate circumstances in her childhood to success on her terms, to be uplifting and heartwarming, which is something I think we all need right now. She describes what happened to her with such honesty. Though the world she describes might seem foreign to those of us who have never lived in such a place or with those problems, her depiction of it make A Story of Travails and Hope As I write this review during the coronavirus crisis, I find a book like this, which details one woman's journey from desperate circumstances in her childhood to success on her terms, to be uplifting and heartwarming, which is something I think we all need right now. She describes what happened to her with such honesty. Though the world she describes might seem foreign to those of us who have never lived in such a place or with those problems, her depiction of it makes it very real, which of course it was for her. But not every author can describe what happened to them well; I think writing a memoir is one of the hardest things to do, especially when you have had a difficult past. But the author is good at just opening the vein, so to speak, and bringing us into her reality. Bobi Conn, I wish you well in all of your future endeavors. You deserve it! My book blog: https://www.readingfanaticreviews.com

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Verissimo Triplett

    This is an important story to read. The author does an incredible job of sharing her story but also forcing the reader to see the bigger social issues going on in the world and how people do not end up who they are from one simple stereotype or characteristic. She is a very talented writer. Thank you for telling your story.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Alexandra

    This was a very stunning piece of work. The writing was beautiful. The way Conn consistently juxtaposed the beauty of her childhood home with its poverty and violence was touching, and framed the larger narrative well. I read this after “Hillbilly Elegy” as a part of my effort to listen to more perspectives from this region. I think Conn’s book provides a searing, stark contrast in many ways in terms of how the environment in the poorest parts of Appalachia effects boys versus girls outlook and This was a very stunning piece of work. The writing was beautiful. The way Conn consistently juxtaposed the beauty of her childhood home with its poverty and violence was touching, and framed the larger narrative well. I read this after “Hillbilly Elegy” as a part of my effort to listen to more perspectives from this region. I think Conn’s book provides a searing, stark contrast in many ways in terms of how the environment in the poorest parts of Appalachia effects boys versus girls outlook and experiences. I also think Conn was much more sensitive to the culture, plights of the people, and possible futures. In fact, in some ways, this narrative, and Conn’s self aware, raw, humble, and frank reflections, were sensitive and moving, whereas JD Vance’s book (at least, comparably) has a bit of arrogance to it that clearly speaks to Vance’s self-congratulatory outlook on life. While reading this, I reflected on how I would have viewed Conn if I’d just come across her. Or just heard about her. I’d likely have considered her white trash, among other unsavory things. I’m uncomfortable with many of the “bad choices” she so honestly discusses, but her story gives so much context and understanding. I think it’s important to get more stories like this out there to remind everyone that people’s lives, even the lives of people we would demonize on the surface, are so complex and nuanced and affected by a thousand different things. Conn’s story is a success story of incredible magnitude, and it doesn’t have to be about going to an IVY League college or running a million dollar company. I had some unanswered questions during Conn’s book, but I’m not privy to all the answers about her life. I wondered if she ever sought treatment for her own drug use, or if it ever got that bad. I also think it was a bit badly organized and disjointed - sometimes she would casually mention things that hasn’t happened yet, only to expand on the story later. But the memoir itself was so useful, I’m giving it 5 stars. I think Conn’s reflection specifically on how elitist liberal feminist think vs. how they act is vitally important. She is a wonderful woman and this book was a wonderful experience that left me in tears multiple times.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lorimul

    Poverty mental illness and remote living are never a good combination. Interesting memoir, always hard to believe there are children in America not better protected. My only complaint is that I wish ot read more like a chronological story as opposed to stream of consciousness. Author skipped around a lot

  30. 5 out of 5

    Cat Elise

    Reflective. (It often pains me to rate or !even form opinions! on memoirs because I think every person’s story is always worth the read and always beautiful. SOOOO, the rating is based on my reading experience, not on the story itself. I’m glad I got the chance to read her story.)

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