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In the Shadow of the Valley by Bobi Conn

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  • $14.00
  • Regular price $24.95

I think a lot of people will find this memoir really captivating, even inspiring. As Bobi Conn told an interviewer,  "I chose to share my story and reflections as honestly and openly as possible because I realize that so many of us struggle with guilt and shame for things that have happened to us, as well as the choices we have made in our worst moments. We need to be able to have honest conversations about our experiences and ourselves, if we are ever going to advance personally or collectively." This is the memoir of a woman who grew up rough and poor in a holler near Morehead, Kentucky, graduated from Berea College about 80 miles away, did graduate work in creative writing, and is the single mother of a boy who was seventeen and a girl who was eleven as she completed this book. More than many books, it demonstrates awareness of "Appalachia" but also of the fact that its evils are the evils of everywhere as is its beauty. She grew up in a family beset with physical and mental abuse and with severe substance abuse  problems, and she now realizes that the effect upon her was recurring self-loathing to the point of being tempted by suicide. Rather than being depressing, this settles in the reader as a book of self-reflection, striving, and continual awareness of the strengths as well as the weaknesses of people. Amazon deemed it a "Best Book of the Month" in the category Biographies and Memoirs. “In sobering detail and with open palms, Bobi Conn mines the depths of her desperation to earn love from a sadistically cruel father and an abused mother, from the boys and men who darken her path, from friends who betray her, and from a God who seems to have turned away from her. Conn’s honesty is heroic and heartbreaking as she shares her story of enduring the stigma of poverty and abuse, claiming her self-worth, and discovering the limits of forgiveness. A necessary and timely read.” —Susan Bernhard. “From the first sentence, I smiled in recognition of a natural storyteller, one ‘born and bound to this land,’ who is a keen observer and a loving inhabitant of the land of which she writes. This book is a wonder—a dark, tragic Appalachian ballad come to full, lush life.” —Elizabeth Chiles Shelburne.

New York: Little a, 2020. 303 pages. Hardback in dust jacket, $24.95.