Hillbilly Elegy

Hillbilly Elegy

A Memoir of A Family and Culture in Crisis

eBook - 2016
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From a former marine and Yale Law School graduate, a powerful account of growing up in a poor Rust Belt town that offers a broader, probing look at the struggles of Americas white working class Hillbilly Elegy is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis that of white working-class Americans. The decline of this group, a demographic of our country that has been slowly disintegrating over forty years, has been reported on with growing frequency and alarm, but has never before been written about as searingly from the inside. J. D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hung around your neck. The Vance family story begins hopefully in postwar America. J. D.s grandparents were dirt poor and in love, and moved north from Kentucky's Appalachia region to Ohio in the hopes of escaping the dreadful poverty around them. They raised a middle-class family, and eventually their grandchild (the author) would graduate from Yale Law School, a conventional marker of their success in achieving generational upward mobility. But as the family saga of Hillbilly Elegy plays out, we learn that this is only the short, superficial version. Vance's grandparents, aunt, uncle, sister, and, most of all, his mother, struggled profoundly with the demands of their new middle-class life, and were never able to fully escape the legacy of abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and trauma so characteristic of their part of America. Vance piercingly shows how he himself still carries around the demons of their chaotic family history. A deeply moving memoir with its share of humor and vividly colorful figures, Hillbilly Elegy is the story of how upward mobility really feels. And it is an urgent and troubling meditation on the loss of the American dream for a large segment of this country.
Publisher: New York : HarperCollins, 2016.
ISBN: 9780062300560
Characteristics: text file
1 online resource
Additional Contributors: OverDrive, Inc. - Distributor

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List - Book Club 2017-18
AuroraPLAdult Jun 13, 2017

Meeting: February 28

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Aug 16, 2017

This book was hard to put down. JD's insights into the Appalachian people and culture were thoughtful and thought-provoking. I think about that part of the country a little differently now, thanks to his anecdotes and analysis. I'd love to read a memoir he writes 10 years from now, when he is further removed in age and distance, and perhaps has kids of his own. Overall, a great read.

Aug 11, 2017

What a poignant memoir by a person from what we perceive as a priviliged class - the white male. J.D Vance tells of a childhood spent amidst poverty, violence, and no sense of stability. He is one of the fortunate men from his class, the poor from Apalachia, who escaped the cycle of poverty largely due to the time he spent with his grandparents - Papaw and Mamaw. Lacking a male role model, as his mother flitted from one husband to another, J.D breaks out and tells the tale beautifully.
Mamaw may have been an unreformed simpleton but in her political astuteness lay great wisdom. It was only after he moved in with Mamaw that J.D started doing well in school. This was followed by a stint as a marine . It was this experience that taught him leadership and that to be a leader one had to earn the respect of followers. The experience as a marine prepared J.D. for college in a way nothing else could have. However, chaos begets chaos and forever J.D had to fight anger issues.
A well told tale which should be read by all.

Aug 06, 2017

A very timely read for me. My appreciation for this book increased steadily as I read further into the book and got to know J.D. Vance and his family. I found it to be very insightful and it made me take a second look at some of my opinions.

Aug 05, 2017

Loved the book. Was no sugar coating life growing up in lower class environment but author was able to entertain the reader with the various characters attics. Book gives a sense of never judge until you have walked in there shoes.

Jul 31, 2017

I actually enjoyed this memoir a lot more than I thought I would. As an African American I'm skeptical of anything that proposes to give me any kind of 'insight' into my country's current political slide into full-blown vitriol, hate, ignorance and demagoguery. Especially by an author who hails from some (now) deeply conservative voting territory. However I was off base as this turned out to be a vibrant, engaging and enlightening read. Although born of different sides of the spectrum, J.D.'s childhood mirrors those of plenty of people I knew growing up in an urban US city. It's well worth the read. If you do and enjoy it, I'd also recommend Postcards from the End of America, and Requiem for the American Dream. Both are intelligent, piercing and savage reads that are fantastic.

Jul 23, 2017

I love stories based in history and I have enjoyed many autobiographies; this is definitely autobiographical, but still not what I expected. The author has done an excellent job of his life experiences growing up in Appalachian America, but goes further in not only sharing his "demons" of self-concept but challenging readers to be a positive influence on both the lives of others and the processes and perceptions that make up our society. If you read to be socially enlightened, rather than entertained, you will eat this book up.

Jul 18, 2017

Thoughtful, provoking, interesting and funny. Vance does a good job of painting a picture of growing up in poverty and ignorance. He does not offer solutions to the problems facing "hillbilly" or "working class" Americans but he does show us the traps in our system that help them fail as well as a glimpse of their mindset given their everyday challenges. And he should know--he grew up as one! I liked his passion, candor, and vivid storytelling. Great for a bookclub discussion.

Jul 14, 2017

I agree with sigridmac's comments below: the author's opinions aren't factually correct.
The largest demographic which elected Trump was non-black women [white, Hispanic, Jewish, Arab, Near Eastern, et cetera], and the second largest group was well-to-do, high SES males of white, Hispanic, black, and other categories. Many sat out this election, and who can blame them, faced with the choice of Wall Street stooge Trump or Wall Street stooge Clinton?
Historically, the Scotch-Irish settled in Appalachia, and they were morally reviled by many Scots and Irish for predictable reasons: the Scotch-Irish were the Scots who, unlike the ancestors on my Scottish side, were kicked off their lands and presented with the option of taking lands from the Irish - - given to them by the Brits, so the British government could colonize and destabilize Ireland [my ancestors and others turned this down, naturally, and came to America after the Brits stole their land].

Jul 08, 2017

J.D. Vance uses his story to tell us frankly why the American dream is no longer being achieved by so many. Only someone who has been there can say so as frankly. What's happening to our middle class? Where is the work ethic? Where is the reasoning? Why is there no trust? J.D. Vance lived it, and tells us in his humble way. We could and should listen and learn.

Jun 26, 2017

Authentic, well-written storytelling of a man who grew up in the tough, brawling culture of poor Appalachia. He credits his grandmother especially, and the Marines, with his almost unbelievable achievement of graduating from Yale Law School. He clearly details the systemic factors weighing down this region of the country, noting the drugs, alcohol, domestic violence, early pregnancies, blended families, etc. Grim moments are lightened by a good sense of humor/excellent observations. At the end of the book, I was glad to read he was only in his early 30s, because despite his accomplishments, he still seems haunted by what he calls his demons.

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Mar 17, 2017

runningbeat thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over


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