Kin: A Memoir

Shawna Kay Rodenberg. Bloomsbury, $28 (288p) ISBN 978-1-635-57455-5
Rodenberg counters the “hopelessly incomplete and exploitative” narratives that commonly come out of Appalachia with a vivid coming-of-age account of her own. As a child, Rodenberg lived in an end-times religious community called “The Body,” where she was sexually abused. When she was 10, in 1984, after her grandfather gave her father a piece of land to build on, her family moved to the hills of eastern Kentucky. She became a cheerleader and a runner in high school with the encouragement of her father, who knew it to be true that “Shawna gets in trouble when she’s not busy.” (He was also worried, Rodenberg writes, that he would “catch me with my pants down.”) This kind of disparaging rhetoric followed Rodenberg into college, unsurprisingly affecting her grades. Even her adviser brushed her off with the startling question, “Do you want to be a bimbo your whole life?” Lacking direction and confidence, she got pregnant and reluctantly agreed to a shotgun wedding at age 19. While there isn’t much of a denouement, Rodenberg’s narrative is sobering and wisely avoids the cliches and stereotypes common to similarly themed memoirs. This engrossing series of dispatches offers a humanizing take on an Appalachia not often seen. (June)
Reviewed on : 03/16/2021
Release date: 06/08/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
Book - 978-1-63557-456-2
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