“An Appalachian memoir from a woman who escaped a cycle of violence, substance abuse, and self-loathing in order to find her voice…the author is to be commended for her courage and determination to change her life circumstances…an inspiration for those attempting to come to terms with abuse.”
“This memoir, although at times achingly sad, provides an uplifting tale of a woman who decided that she would prevail over the hand that life dealt her…An engaging read that will connect with fans of Tara Westover’s Educated and those interested in the ability of the human spirit to overcome adversity.”
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These are the songs that I find most fitting to accompany my memoir. From Waylon Jennings’s lo-fi version of “White Lightnin'” to the Grateful Dead and Tom Waits, the music that moves me covers a lot of ground. You can read my description of how each song relates to my story at the Largehearted Boy’s Book Notes feature.
About the Author
Bobi Conn was born in Morehead, Kentucky, and raised in a nearby holler, where she developed a deep connection with the land and her Appalachian roots. She obtained her bachelor’s degree at Berea College, the first school in the American South to integrate racially and to teach men and women in the same classrooms. After struggling as a single mother, she worked multiple part-time jobs at once to support her son and to attend graduate school, where she earned a master’s degree in English with an emphasis in creative writing. In addition to writing, Bobi loves playing pool, cooking, being in the woods, attempting to grow a garden, and spending time with her incredible children.
“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, author of Winter Loon
“This important and necessary debut memoir explores the rich beauty and disturbing tragedy of Appalachia, how the people, like the land, have been exploited by corporate greed. Bobi Conn is a masterful storyteller weaving a tale of extreme poverty; an abusive, drug-addicted father; and a devoted grandmother’s love into the wider tapestry of an entire at-risk population’s lives. In the Shadow of the Valley is like the hollers that pockmark the land; the beautiful and haunting words will echo in your heart and mind long after the final page.”
—William Dameron, author of The Lie: A Memoir of Two Marriages, Catfishing & Coming Out
“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, author of Holding On To Nothing
► Podcast Interview with Think Humanities
► Podcast interview with The Downtown Writers Jam
► 5-star review by Marzie’s Reads
► Interview with Advice to Writers
► Interview with The Bravehearted Podcast, with a focus on abuse and justice
► New podcast interview with The Perks of Being a Book Lover
► Bobi’s essay on the pandemic and working class needs is available through the Daily Beast
► Read Bobi’s essay about opiates, addiction, and home, available on Salon
► Bobi’s playlist of songs that accompany her memoir is now on Largehearted Boy
► Q&A with Deborah Kalb Books
► Listen to Bobi’s interview with WEKU’s Tom Martin on the Eastern Standard radio program
► Q&A with the Penmen Review from SNHU