Rona Jaffe Award-winning writer Shawna Kay Rodenberg’s gorgeous debut is a hopeful, riveting, and multilayered story of an Appalachian family and childhood, one that complicates and challenges mainstream notions about the region. When Shawna was four, her father, fresh from a ruinous tour in Vietnam, spirited her family from their home in the hills of Eastern Kentucky to Minnesota, renouncing all of their earthly possessions to live in the Body, an off-the-grid End Times religious community—a bad fit for the imaginative and precocious Shawna, who possessed a writer’s sensibility from a young age. Soon after the leader of the Body died and revelations of sexual abuse came to light, her family returned to the same Kentucky mountains that their ancestors have called home for three hundred years. It is a community ravaged by the coal industry, but for all that, rich in humanity, beauty, and the complex knots of family love. Interweaving her own memories with genealogical research, Shawna Kay Rodenberg approaches her family’s story—and the broader story of the Appalachian region—with an open heart and open eyes. Kin is a mesmerizing memoir but above all, a story of family—about the forgiveness and love within its bounds—and generations of Appalachians who have endured, harmed, and held each other through countless lifetimes of personal and regional tragedy.
Meet the Author
Shawna Kay Rodenberg holds an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars. Her reviews and essays have appeared in Consequence, Salon, the Village Voice, and Elle. In 2016, Shawna was awarded the Jean Ritchie Fellowship, the largest monetary award given to an Appalachian writer, and in 2017 she was the recipient of a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award. A registered nurse, community college English instructor, mother of five, and grandmother of one, she lives on a hobby goat farm in southern Indiana.