Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Hill Women: Finding Family and a Way Forward in the Appalachian Mountains” as Want to Read:
Hill Women: Finding Family and a Way Forward in the Appalachian Mountains
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

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

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  3,375 ratings  ·  644 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 c
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published January 7th 2020 by Ballantine Books
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Hill Women, please sign up.
Recent Questions
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.91  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,375 ratings  ·  644 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Hill Women: Finding Family and a Way Forward in the Appalachian Mountains
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 f ...more
Diane S ☔
Feb 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nfr-2020
A counterpoint to the book Hillbilly Elegy, which tended to show the worst of the Appalachian people.
This book shows the best, shows their strong sense of family, their hard work and the hardships they face daily. Owsley County, KY is one of the poorest counties in the nation, but despite that these proud people soldier on, without public aid.

Women and their strength, women who encourage their children to get a higher education, knowing that is their ticket out of the poverty that encompasses
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 vis
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
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, sh
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
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,
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, 2020 ...more
Denise Wilbanks | This Is My Everybody
Past. Present. Future… Those three things can seem like three completely different worlds in your life, can't they? And maintaining a connection between those three -- as much as you love and honor every single one of them -- It can be elusive at times. Especially as you're moving forward in your life and you want to achieve dreams that you have.

And even more… Especially if those dreams take you very, very far away from home.

“Hill Women” by Cassie Chambers is a wonderful book written by an App
May 15, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
*Audiobook Review* Yay, another liberal who thinks visiting granny in Appalachia a few times as a kid means they can exploit the region for publicity. This is like a mixture of Educated and Hillbilly Elegy but with a way more boring family. The first half is about said boring family, and it was just okay. I was eager to listen to the second half, to hear how Cassie moves to Appalachia, starts a business, and employs locals to help turn the communities around! Sadly, what I got was Cassie, after ...more
Dec 08, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Unfortunately, this is not a good review for this book. From the description of the story I was looking forward to hearing of the trials, tribulations, aspirations and accomplishments of the author as she overcomes her childhood. But that is not exactly what this is about, yes, we do learn of her family challenges, their life in poverty, and her grandmother’s dream of sending her mother to college, but I almost felt it was her parents story we should have been reading about, her mother and fathe ...more
♥ Sandi ❣
3.75 stars

This is actually the type of non-fiction book that I don't usually enjoy. There is little to no conversation and everything is written in first person. I usually find that type book very boring and most often do not finish them.


I thoroughly enjoyed this trip with Cassie Chambers. She takes us from her childhood in the 'hollers' of Kentucky, up through her very formal education and life as a lawyer, on to her wedding and finally to her life in politics. Even without much conv
Karen R
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 educa
Jan 09, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fic, netgalley
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 a ...more
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 r
Mickey Knipp
May 18, 2020 rated it did not like it
I thought this was going to be a book about life in the Appalachian Mountains and their way of life and what i got was a Democrat propaganda book on how every one who doesn't live in there should send money there and built some type of industry there. The author was ashamed of her family while she was growing up so she went to college and came back to help the poor a great calling. She also mentions she voted for Hillary Clinton because she was a woman not because she agreed with one policy MRS ...more
Mama Cass
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 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 mothe
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, liv
I won the book Hill Women by Cassie Chambers in a giveaway from Random House.
The book was ok. I was not overly impressed. The first part of the book was pretty good when the author spoke of her family and the things she learned from them. But I felt that the last half of the book went downhill and was flat. The facts about Kentucky were interesting but her political career was not. I wanted to like the book more than just ok but the second half of the book just did not work for me.
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.
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!
Feb 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Cassie Chambers grew up in Owsley County in Kentucky, one of the poorest counties in state (and country). Even though she eventually managed to attend Yale and Harvard, she is one of the very few residents (and even fewer females) to leave the Appalachians and attend college. As a lawyer, she has returned “home” and devotes her time to providing legal aid to mostly female clients who have endured abuse, divorce, and/or custody battles... and often can barely afford to feed their families, never ...more
Susan Bazzett-Griffith
I loved this memoir about a woman with deep family roots in Appalachia. Cassie Chambers focuses on the grit and determination of the Hill Women or Mountain Women who raised her, and how their example of hard work and heart allowed her to dream bigger and utilize education as a way to find a financial security all but impossible for those in small hollers in Appalachia. Chambers writing is lovely, and the portraits of her mother, grandmother and beloved Aunt are beautifully rendered. The last few ...more
Tonstant Weader
Feb 25, 2020 rated it liked it
Hill Women is very much Cassie Chambers memoir of her life, her family and the women of Owsley County, the poorest country in Kentucky, the second poorest in the United States. It is exactly the sort of place J. D. Vance was writing about when he wrote Hillbilly Elegy, poor, with the Appalachian culture and history. That’s where the similarity ends.

First, Chambers centers the women of Owsley County, primarily the women in her family. More importantly, Chambers grew up in Kentucky and lives there
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, bu ...more
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
Nov 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: net-galley
I have read so many fictional books about Appalachian people and am completely enamored with them. This is such a beautifully written memoir of three generations of strong Appalachian women and their strength and will to survive. Very highly recommended!
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 spar
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Play Book Tag: (Poll Ballot) Hill Women by Cassie Chambers - 3 stars 1 13 Mar 27, 2020 11:37AM  
NetGalley Readers: This topic has been closed to new comments. Blank Galley 6 88 Jan 04, 2020 04:42PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Me
  • Hounds of the Basket Stitch
  • The Fairy Doll
  • Little Plum
  • All the Flowers in Paris
  • Spinster: Making a Life of One's Own
  • The Almanack
  • A Beach Wish
  • Bound for Murder (Blue Ridge Library Mysteries #4)
  • Let It Snow
  • A Deadly Deception (Constance Piper Mystery #3)
  • Grateful American: A Journey from Self to Service
  • Toil & Trouble
  • A Day in June
  • The Tenth Muse
  • The Topeka School
  • Almost Just Friends (Wildstone, #4)
  • The Christmas Boutique (Elm Creek Quilts #21)
See similar books…

Articles featuring this book

Anne Lamott, the beloved writer of memoirs including Bird by Bird and Traveling Mercies, once said, “You own everything that happened to you....
60 likes · 22 comments
“For a while, in that room, my past and present were together and getting along just fine.” 1 likes
“Experts on education say that exposing low-income children to higher-income environments is one of the most effective tools for motivating them to strive to do well in school.” 0 likes
More quotes…