Hill Women: Finding Family and a Way Forward in the Appalachian Mountains

Ballantine. Jan. 2020. 304p. ISBN 9781984818911. $27.. SOC SCI
Chambers’s debut is first and foremost a family memoir that chronicles her personal journey from her home in Appalachia to the Ivy League and back again, while highlighting the women in her life who provided inspiration. Chambers’s mother, Wilma, had an indomitable will that helped her become the first in her family to graduate from college. The author’s grandmother and Aunt Ruth, both of whom remained in Owsley County, KY, raising families, running the farm, and helping neighbors survive, are also a focus. These women were role models who encouraged Chambers to recognize the importance of education; she would later go on to earn degrees from Yale and Harvard Law School. After graduation, Chambers returned to Kentucky to work in legal services. She describes the many pitfalls in the system for those living in poverty as well as the persistent problems facing the region, including unemployment, water pollution from mining, and the opioid epidemic.
VERDICT A passionate, hopeful vision of the women of Appalachia and the many individuals and families who depend on their support and willingness to give back to others.

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