Book Buzz: In the Shadow of the Valley: A Memoir by Bobi Conn

“An Appalachian memoir from a woman who escaped a cycle of violence, substance abuse, and self-loathing in order to find her voice…an inspiration for those attempting to come to terms with abuse.”—Kirkus Reviews



A clear-eyed and compassionate memoir of the Appalachian experience by a woman who embraced its astonishing beauty narrowly escaped its violence and struggles to call it home.


Bobi Conn was raised in a remote Kentucky holler in the 1980s Appalachia. She remembers her tin-roofed house tucked away in a vast forest paradise; the sparkling creeks, with their frogs and crawdads; the sweet blackberries growing along the road to her granny’s; and her abusive father, an underemployed alcoholic whose untethered rage and violence against Bobi and her mother were frighteningly typical of a community marginalized, desperate, and ignored. Bobi’s rule of survival: always be vigilant but endure it silently.


Slipping away from home, Bobi went to college and got a white-collar job. Mistrusted by her family for her progress and condescended to by peers for her accent and her history, she was followed by the markers of her class. Though she carried her childhood self everywhere, Bobi also finally found her voice.


An elegiac account of survival despite being born poor, female, and cloistered, Bobi’s testament is one of hope for all vulnerable populations, particularly women and girls caught in the cycle of poverty and abuse. On a continual path to worth, autonomy, and reinvention, Conn proves here that “the storyteller is the one with the power.”

“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

In the Shadow of the Valley: A Memoir by Bobi Conn

320 Pages

ISBN 9781542004169


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 five 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, telling jokes, cooking, being in the woods, attempting to grow a garden, and spending time with her incredible children.

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