By Collection Management Librarian Dontaná McPherson-Joseph
Travel with us to the oft-overlooked region of Appalachia. Nestled in the peaks, valleys, nooks, and crannies of the Appalachian Mountains, separating the East Coast from the Midwest, this beautiful region is home to rare accents, deep religion, and hidden secrets.
Betty by Tiffany McDaniel
Why you should try it: A fictional, heartwrenching account of the life of the author’s mother in Ohio.
Description: Born to a Cherokee father and white mother in the Appalachians of 1954, Betty endures poverty and violence in a wild natural refuge before she is forced to reckon with the historical influences that shaped dark family secrets.
Shiner by Amy Jo Burns
Why you should try it: A deep friendship between women is at the core of this lyrical, melancholy novel in the hollers of West Virginia.
Description: Growing up in a cloistered mountain cabin cut off from everyone in the outside world except her mother’s best friend, a fanatical snake handler’s daughter risks everything to defy her father and pursue a different future.
Stream & download with: Media on Demand & Libby (ebook)
Stay & Fight by Madeline Ffitch
Why you should try it: All the beauty of Ohio, with a healthy dose of lesbian separatism, and a dash of impending oil pipeline construction.
Description: Abandoned on her boyfriend’s Appalachian living-off-the-land farm initiative, Helen builds a cooperative family with a young couple before educational needs and a boundary dispute challenge their independence.
Stream & download with: Hoopla (digital audiobook)
Sugar Run by Mesha Maren
Why you should try it: A stark, bleak, and trapped feeling permeates this look at a recently released woman who has spent her early adulthood in prison.
Description: Released after serving 18 years for manslaughter, Jodi McCarty finds her efforts to track down a friend and move on with the woman she loves challenged by the insular values of their rural West Virginia community.
Goshen Road by Bonnie Proudfoot
Why you should try it: This sweeping and immersive novel of sisters is not for the faint of heart.
Description: Set from the late 1960s through the early 1990s, this elegiac, unvarnished, and empathetic novel captures one working-class family in rural West Virginia as they balance on the dividing line between Appalachia old and new, with sisters Dessie and Billie Price as its urgently beating heart.
Lum by Libby Ware
Why you should try it: Rarely does a book encapsulate a region and a mindset so clearly and distinctly as this novel on the path of what will become the Blue Ridge Parkway, a stretch of highway from Virginia to North Carolina.
Description: At age 8, Lum was diagnosed with what we now call an intersex condition and is told she can’t expect to marry. Now at 33, she has no home of her own and is valued only for her skills, never treated like a true member of the family. When the Blue Ridge Parkway is slated to come through her family’s farmland, people take sides in the fight. The community begins to tear apart—culminating in an act of violence and subsequent betrayal by opponents of the new road. However, the Parkway brings opportunities as well as loss.
Stream & download with: Hoopla (ebook, digital audiobook)
Dontaná is a Collection Management Librarian who was born with an unending reading list. She is almost always reading two books simultaneously and is easily distracted by cool covers.