"...Hillbillies learn from an early age to deal with uncomfortable truths by avoiding them, or by pretending better truths exist. This tendency might make for psychological resilience, but it also makes it hard for Appalachians to look at themselves honestly. We tend to overstate and to understate, to glorify the good and ignore the bad in ourselves."
"Papaw's death permanently altered the trajectory of our family. Before his death, I had settled into the chaotic but happy routine of splitting time between Mom's and Mamaw's. Boyfriends came and went, Mom had good days and bad, but I always had an escape route. With Papaw gone and Mom in rehab at the Cincinnati Center for Addiction Treatment—or 'the CAT house,' as we called it—I began to feel myself a burden."
"Our eating and exercise habits seem designed to send us to an early grave, and it's working: In certain parts of Kentucky, local life expectancy is sixty-seven, a full decade and a half below what it is in nearby Virginia. A recent study found that unique among all ethnic groups in the United States, the life expectancy of working-class white folks is going down."
"It would be tough to chronicle all the outbursts and screaming matches I witnessed that had nothing to do with my family. My neighbor friend and I would play in his backyard until we heard screaming from his parents, and then we'd run into the alley and hide."