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

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  267 ratings  ·  128 reviews
After rising from poverty to earn two Ivy League degrees, an Appalachian lawyer pays tribute to the strong “hill women” who raised and inspired her, and whose values have the potential to rejuvenate a struggling region—an uplifting and eye-opening memoir for readers of Hillbilly Elegy and Educated.

Nestled in the Appalachian mountains, Owsley County is one of the poorest
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published January 7th 2020 by Ballantine Books
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Angela M
Dec 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cassie Chambers is an attorney, an Ivy League graduate of Yale and Harvard Law School and in this memoir pays loving tribute to the strong women who graced her life growing up in Appalachian Hills in Owsley County Kentucky in a place called Cow Creek. It’s a place steeped in poverty, but filled with people of grit, gumption, creativity, hard working people like her grandmother, her mother and her aunt. The poverty is extensive, as she describes the lives of the people here. Her family was more ...more
Dec 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this is about hill women from the hollers of Kentucky, and my mom comes from the hollers of West Virginia.
The author, Cassie Chambers, was able to rise out of poverty to become a lawyer with two Ivy League Degrees, and became an advocate for the poor in Kentucky.
Cassie came from a long line of hard working folks who were very poor and none had gone far at all in school, they had to work the fields of the tobacco farm they lived on. Her mother was the only child of her

”This holler feels like home, and this house feels like family. There are women’s stories here, stories of resilience, love, and strength. This community knows them well, but their echo hasn’t reached far enough into the outside world. Instead, these tales have ricocheted within the mountains, growing more faint with time. I want to tell these stories because they matter, because I’m afraid that they will be forgotten, because they have the power to make this community
Jan 04, 2020 rated it really liked it

HILL WOMEN was a delightful read that was both enlightening and entertaining. The writing was both passionate and immersing. It’s a well-delivered portrait of the culture of the poorest county in the country as well as how one can emerge from it. Cassie skillfully transports us to the hills of Kentucky and gives us a beautifully descriptive vision of the women that live there.

I appreciated her honesty in her writing about her feelings of the family she had left behind and of not fitting in at
Kyra Leseberg (Roots & Reads)
3.5 stars

Owsley County is one of the poorest counties not only in the state of Kentucky but also the United States.

Cassie Chambers spent a lot of her childhood in Owsley with family while her mom finished college and returned throughout her life seeking connection with her roots.

Chambers shares family history to allow readers to understand where she began: her granny was a child bride who raised seven children isolated in a holler of Kentucky and most of her children gave up on education before
Donna Davis
Cassie Chambers was born and raised in Owsley County, Kentucky, the poorest county in the United States. With the determination handed down to her by her mother and grandmother, she attended Ivy League schools and became a practicing attorney. This memoir is her story as well as a defense of the women from her homeland, a manifesto opposing stereotypes and misconceptions. I read it free and early thanks to Net Galley and Random House Ballantine. It will be available to the public January 7, ...more
The more I read this book, the more I was reminded of JD Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy. This is pretty much the female version of his story. Like Vance, Cassie Chambers made it out of her rural hometown and ended up at Yale, earning a law degree.

It’s admirable that Cassie wanted to better herself enough to do the work required to enjoy a better life. It’s also admirable that she has gone back to her home state to help make life better for others. But when it came to some of her own family members,
Karen Rush
Jan 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Cassie Chambers has led a rich and joyful life despite living in extreme poverty. Filling her days laboring in the tobacco fields, living in a particleboard farmhouse, yet she never felt deprived.
Cassie comes from a line of strong, independent and caring Appalachian mountain women who worked hard, took care of one another, their family and their neighbors. It is clear that Cassie is extremely appreciative of her inspirational ‘teachers’ and the values they taught such as the importance of
Dec 19, 2019 rated it liked it
Despite the promises of the title, this book isn’t so much about hill women as it is about one woman, the author. To put it gently, she is not overly interesting. When she did veer into other people’s stories it was still people intimately connected to her: mother, grandmother, cousin, aunt. We need to get past this idea that everyone needs to write a memoir about their immediate relatives. I did learn about the fee-based justice system in rural Eastern Kentucky, but beyond that, this book is ...more
Sep 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hill Women is a book chronicling the life of a young girl in Appalachia as she grows up. It tells her story and that of her family and friends, specifically the other strong women in her life

The description for this book appealed to me immediately, as I spent time many years ago in high school doing volunteer work repairing and rebuilding homes in the Appalachian Mountains in Kentucky and West Virginia. It was a life changing experience and left me in love with and in awe of the people in the
Dec 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was a fascinating memoir! I was completely caught up in her story and her stories of the women in this part of the country. Hill Women is thought provoking, moving, and powerful. A tale of survival, strength, and community. I loved it! Thank you to the publisher for the review copy in exchange for my honest review!
Jill Dobbe
Oct 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating read about growing up in the Appalachian hills where hard work, family and extreme poverty are the way of life. The author leaves her family and friends to pursue an education only to be drawn back to what she knows and carries in her heart. Hill Women takes readers into a part of the U.S. where the lives and culture is somewhat unknown and misunderstood.

Cassie Chambers found a way to pursue her dreams of education outside Kentucky. She attended Yale and Harvard and for awhile,
Nov 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Powerful, thought provoking and well written. I loved this memoir, love the strength of it all. A def must read. So glad Booklist sent it to me to review.
Dec 10, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A publicist wrote, suggesting that since I’d enjoyed the book “Educated,” I’d probably also like “Hill Women” which releases in January. I took her word and read it.

Hill Women is the memoir of Cassie Chambers. Cassie grew up in the hills of eastern Kentucky, which must be a pretty rough place. I could relate to some of what she wrote about: I, too, had a “Mamaw” and “Papaw.” I heard plenty of “ain’t” and country music. Although I grew up in southern Indiana, it wasn’t all that far from Kentucky,
Nov 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What an absolutely eye-opening memoir. Reading allows you to be privy to the lives of many different people and to learn about the lives of Hill Women was exciting and honestly a point a view I had never thought about.
Which is why I am so happy that Cassie Chambers represented herself and family with all the flaws and beauty of any normal family. It was a true pleasure to read.
Sep 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful profile of strong,determined women.Cassie Chambers the author comes from a small town in the Appalachian mountains.This book blows open the typical poverty stricken story that is written about Appalachia.From being poor to Harvard...follow her on this remarkable journey.
Thankyou Netgalley and Random House Publishing for this ARC
Dec 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Hill Women is a part biography, part autobiography, and part sociological look at the lives of a family and extended family in the deep hills of Kentucky Appalachia. It is eye-opening and fascinating, and the way the author weaves this all together is quite magical.

Cassie Chambers spent a lot of her youth with her grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins in the hills of Owsley County, among coal miners and tobacco farmers. Poverty was common, as was lack of much formal education. Cassie’s
Jan 09, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley, non-fic
Not bad, just nothing all that exciting. I did enjoy learning more about what it was like growing up in the mountains of Kentucky, a very different life to mine so I always appreciate learning about how life is for others. Hearing about the justice system from the eyes and experiences of those from the area was generally interesting as well. In the later half of the book the author uses this platform to share her political beliefs which, unless I deliberately choose a book on politics, I'm not ...more
Nov 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
This book was thought provoking, interesting and heart warming. You can tell that the author put her heart and soul into this love letter to her family and to Appalachia. As a person that was hoping our last election would have given us our first woman President, I've always had a hard time understanding how so many people in need of health care, better jobs and better living conditions could have voted for someone that really doesn't represent or understand them, or in actuality really care, ...more
Dec 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir
I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

“For me, there is hope in the spirit of a people who find creative ways to exist in a community that has been systematically marginalized. In men and women who take care of each other even when the outside world does not take care of them. In people who broke their bodies in tobacco fields and coal mines to make a living in the only community they have ever known. We don’t take time to see it: the hope in the poverty, the
Nov 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What a wonderful read this is, I don’t know much about the South and even less about Eastern Kentucky but this book did such a great job giving me an honest glimpse in the lives of mountain folks, Cassie Chambers did an amazing job not only introducing us, readers to her family but giving us an unbiased 360 look of the mountain life she was born into. I would wholeheartedly recommend this book to any and all readers interested in learning about parts of this country and the people who live ...more
Jan 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Cassie Chambers paints an honest and moving portrait of what it means to grow up in the heart of the Appalachian mountains. It's a coming of age story, but it's also so much more than that. It's a heartfelt love letter to the mountains themselves and to the strength of the generations that came before her. The author does a beautiful job of dissecting the delicate balance between need and pride, between poor in pockets and rich in spirit, between strength and vulnerability.

Cassie's story centers
Jan 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This part memoir, part family history in Appalachia provides a strong narrative about what life is like in the hills both today, and in the more recent past.

I enjoyed seeing the hill communities and their beliefs and relationships through the viewpoint of the matrilineal line of the author, Cassie Chambers.

For me, the rural part of my state, especially in certain areas, faces very similar challenges to Appalachia such as brain drain, drug addiction, loss of jobs and industries and it's
I’ve been interested in Appalachia since discovering the Foxfire books during my hippy era. Their terrain and strong relationships are worlds away from mine, growing up in Southern California. I’ve read Homer Hickham’s series, several of Rick Bragg’s books and J.D. Vance’s recent book, Hillbilly Elegy, which left me with a feeling of loss and hopelessness. Along comes Hill Women with Cassie’s passion for her hills and people and determination to improve their lives with better education and ...more
Oct 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

First off, thank you to Cassie Chambers, Ballantine Books/Random House, and NetGalley for the advanced digital copy of this book.

The front cover immediately drew me in. Because I swear there's a near copy of that photo somewhere in my mama's house. It might be of my grammie or my great aunt Martha or someone else but it's there and it's West Virginia.

After reading this book, I swear if I ever meet Cassie Chambers I'm going to hug her. Her book is so balanced. It's her family's story, and
Kerri Adams
Oct 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really 4.5 Stars!

I just finished this wonderful ARC copy of Hill Women by Cassie Chambers thanks to Netgallery and Random House Publishing/Ballintine Books.

I have read a few books, fiction and nonfiction, that are about people in the Appalachian areas but this one I believe is my favorite. Cassie Chambers grew up in poverty in the mountain of Kentucky, as many in the area do. But she had one advantage and that was strong, stubborn, women around her that somehow believed education was a high
Bonnye Reed
I received a free ARC electronic copy of this memoir from Netgalley, Cassie Chambers, and Random House - Ballantine Books. Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me. I have read this work of my own volition, and this review reflects my honest opinion of Hill Women: Finding Family and a Way Forward in the Appalachian Mountains. This is a memoir I am happy to recommend to friends and family. I recognize all of the women in this work - from right here in the foothills of the high plains ...more
Jan 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lolly K Dandeneau
via my blog:
'Generosity was both an insurance police and a deeply held value.'

Kentucky born Cassie Chambers grew up in Owsley County, all too aware of the hard-work and struggle her grandparents and their children dealt with. Cassie parents were both still working their way through college, living in Berea but close enough to her Mother Wilma’s family when they had her. With the impossible cost of childcare, they relied on those in Owsley to care for her,
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