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Publisher's Summary

Bloomsbury presents Kin by Shawna Kay Rodenberg, read by Natalie Duke. 

A heart-stopping memoir of a wrenching Appalachian girlhood and a multilayered portrait of a misrepresented people, from Rona Jaffe Writer's Award-winner Shawna Kay Rodenberg. 

When Shawna Kay Rodenberg 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. Her father was seeking a better, safer life for his family, but the austere communal living of prayer, bible study and strict regimentation was a bad fit for the precocious Shawna. Disciplined harshly for her many infractions, she was sexually abused by a predatory adult member of the community. Soon after the leader of the Body died and revelations of the sexual abuse came to light, her family returned to the same Kentucky mountains that their ancestors have called home for 300 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. Curious, resourceful, rebellious, Shawna ultimately leaves her mountain home, but only as she masters a perilous balancing act between who she has been and who she will become. 

Kin is a mesmerizing memoir of survival that seeks to understand and make peace with the people and places that were survived. It is above all about 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.

©2021 Shawna Kay Rodenberg (P)2021 Bloomsbury Publishing Plc

Critic Reviews

"Shawna Kay Rodenberg tells her story with a near-heroic self-awareness and insight into her family, her Appalachian ancestors, her spiritual suffering and religious sustenance, the damage done by generations of abuse and the damage repaired by love and her own self-witness. She is a masterful storyteller, and I have tremendous admiration for her lucid courage and for the way her personal resiliency seems to have generated a specific kind of prose, both powerful and kind." (Rosanne Cash)

"Whatever you believe about Appalachia, prepare to have those beliefs upended, or at least beautifully complicated. Unless, of course, you are from there, and then prepare to glimpse what is possible. Kin in about remembering ‘who and what’ we are - to not only making peace with that, but to shape it into something remarkable." (Nick Flynn, author of This Is the Night Our House Will Catch Fire)

"This startling memoir of a wild soul will electrify you. The unbreakable Shawna Kay rises again and again to forgive, despite every institution that failed her." (Bonnie Jo Campbell, author of Mothers, Tell Your Daughters)

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