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The Climb from Salt Lick: A Memoir of Appalachia

In the mid-1970s, Nancy L. Abrams, a young photojournalist from the Midwest, plunges into life as a small-town journalist in West Virginia. She befriends the hippies on the commune one mountaintop over, rents a cabin in beautiful Salt Lick Valley, and falls in love with a local boy, wrestling to balance the demands of a job and a personal life. She learns how to survive in Appalachia—how to heat with coal and wood, how to chop kindling, plant a garden, and preserve produce.

The Climb from Salt Lick is the remarkable memoir of an outsider coming into adulthood. It is the story of a unique place and its people from the perspective of a woman who documents its burdens and its beauty, using words and pictures to tell the rich stories of those around her.

Abrams “writes eloquently about the landscape, capturing a feeling of awe and belonging often overlooked by other literature about the state.” … “It is sort of a reverse Hillbilly Elegy.” Susan Maguire, Booklist

The Book — Nancy L. Abrams (



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