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Kin: A Memoir by Shawna Kay Rodenberg

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The fad in memoir these days is to skip around all over the place, and I don’t like it. But I’m glad this memoir was written and found a publisher, which it probably would not have found as an autobiography. The title establishes this memoir as quintessentially Appalachian, as we are known for placing kinship ties above all else. And it also clarifies that Shawna Kay Rodenberg is more greatly concerned with the impact of her kinfolks, even generations back, than herself or her Letcher County, Kentucky, homeplace. This memoir is exemplary for its drama, its writing style and for its compelling protagonist. “I hope this book will fall into the hands of everyone who has ever swallowed their words, hid their scars, been mocked, laughed at, or ignored. Rodenberg's lyricism, mastery of form, and command of image and metaphor are matched only by the power of her honesty and the precision of her recall. Kin will endure and bring light and warmth to all who encounter this beautiful book.” ―Robert Gipe. “A fascinating memoir. What makes this one special is the way the debut author widens her view to tell the stories of her parents, grandparents, and other relatives, including times before she was born, with as much compassion and realistic detail as she gives her own story . . . a nuanced portrait of a complicated place and people.” ―Booklist (starred review).Kin is highly readable, even in the darkest of its many dark moments. Rodenberg is a gifted writer and brings her setting to life. It is a beautifully written look at resilience and the power of family and place.” ―Bookreporter. "[Rodenberg] intersperses third-person accounts of her mother's life in Kentucky and her father's before he went to Vietnam . . . the alternating chapters provide context and feed Rodenberg's overarching theme about how stories repeat in families, that lineage ‘wasn't about the past, like people often thought, so much as the future.’" - The Minneapolis Star Tribune.

New York: Bloomsbury, 2021. 330 pages. Hardback in dust jacket.