Kin: An Appalachian Memoir

Shawna Kay Rodenberg’s memoir, Kin, tells the story of her experience growing up in Appalachia, beginning with her childhood in the religious cult The Body and alternating through her grandparents’ and parents’ childhoods.

Reading this memoir felt a bit like coming home. As an Appalachian myself, at times, I recognized Rodenberg’s experiences so acutely. Her Appalachia was not my Appalachia, but in some ways, it was. I loved her descriptions and her prose was quite beautiful at times.

This was not a book I could read quickly. But it is worth taking your time with this one. It took me until about halfway through to really sink my teeth into this memoir. I think part of it was that it took me a while to get into the rhythm of the time changes and some of the narration/character changes. This a moving memoir of what it’s like to be fiercely devoted to your family no matter the difficulties. Their relationships may be difficult but family always comes first. This is a compelling story. I always devour any book on Appalachia that I can. It is so critically important to offer more voices to represent the diverse region of Appalachia. Appalachians deserve to tell their own stories beyond JD Vance. We are so much richer and more nuanced than how he portrayed us. Shawna Kay’s memoir offers a much-needed additional voice at the table.

Thank you to NetGalley and Bloomsbury for providing me a copy of an e-arc.

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