Cassie Chambers grew up in the hollers of Owsley County, one of the poorest counties in Kentucky. Her Granny was a child bride who rose before dawn every morning to raise seven children. Her two daughters took very different paths: strong-willed Ruth stayed on the family farm, while spirited Wilma became the first in the family to graduate from high school, then moved an hour away for college.
Married at nineteen and pregnant with Cassie a few months later, Wilma beat the odds to finish school. She raised her daughter to think she could move mountains. Cassie would spend much of her childhood with Granny and Ruth in the hills of Owsley County. With her “hill women” values guiding her, Cassie went on to graduate from Harvard Law, and she moved back home to help her fellow rural Kentucky women by providing free legal services.
Appalachian women face issues that are all too common: domestic violence, the opioid crisis, a world that seems more divided by the day. But they are also community leaders, keeping their towns together in the face of a system that continually fails them. With nuance and heart, Chambers uses these women’s stories paired with her own journey to break down the myth of the hillbilly and illuminate a region whose poor communities, especially women, can lead it into the future.