Hillbilly Elegy

Hillbilly Elegy

A Memoir of A Family and Culture in Crisis

eBook - 2016
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Shares the story of the author's family and upbringing, describing how they moved from poverty to an upwardly mobile clan that included the author, a Yale Law School graduate, while navigating the demands of middle class life and the collective demons of the past.
Publisher: New York :, HarperCollins,, 2016
ISBN: 9780062300560
Characteristics: 1 online resource
text file,rda
Additional Contributors: OverDrive, Inc. - Distributor

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s
Sammy101617
Jan 12, 2018

Excellent, great writing and would read again

p
pmaison
Jan 11, 2018

3 stars - This book garnered so much media buzz as a "must read to understand the lives of Appalachian poor white folk". Well, this story did some of that, but you have to understand that it's foremost an autobiography of the author's struggle to move beyond the rocky shores of his particular upbringing. On that level it's an impressive story, though told through unexceptional prose. In the end I felt let down that there was little attempt by the author to circle back on the larger story of how today's Appalachia might -- or might not -- be a different place than it used to be.

PimaLib_LaurenH Jan 04, 2018

I grew up in the deep south and I was really hopeful about this book. Unfortunately, I hated it. It was deeply condescending and hard to get through for that alone. I know this one's really popular, but if you're looking to gain a better understanding of the working class South/Appalachia, this book ain't it.

m
MaxCW26
Jan 02, 2018

Good insight into issues plaguing the rust belt and Appalachia. Highly recommend for everyone.

m
mjohnson313
Dec 29, 2017

For all of the buzz, I'm not really sure what epiphanies J.D. Vance's lackluster prose are supposed to elicit. His conclusions are fairly rudimentary: broken families lead to youth without support systems lead to bad decisions or coping behaviors that maintain the cycle of poverty. Nothing ground breaking here.

The primary tool is a first-person account of life inside the cycle, with anecdotal evidence providing a clear demonstration of the adverse effects of a childhood without stability. Of course, many of those stories (even the ones that in theory demonstrate the author's "damage" or "challenges") somehow reinforce the success of the hero—whether triumphing as a hillbilly or in his escape from the hillbilly community.

It's fine, but not the tour de force of insightful retrospective I was expecting.

s
sarahmonson
Dec 26, 2017

would recommend to a friend

j
jr3083
Dec 18, 2017

J. D. Vance grew up in Middletown Ohio, but his cultural roots were in Jackson, Kentucky. "Middletown Ohio!"- it sounds like a Billy Joel song. Even his name, which is unexceptional at first glance, tells his story. ‘Jay Dot Dee Dot’ is what he called himself, but the names which the letters abbreviated changed, as did his surname, as his mother churned through a series of marriages that ended in failure. The real anchor in his life was his grandmother, Mamaw (pronounced Ma’am-aw), who along with her husband Papaw, made the trek northwest to join the steel-manufacturing workforce in Ohio in the post WWII boom. His grandparents had had a rocky marriage but hostilities had ebbed, and of all their children, it was J.D.’s mother (Mom) who was probably the most troubled. She was a nurse, but fell in and out of addiction to prescription drugs, and bounced quickly from one marriage to another, dragging her children Lindsay and J.D. with her. It was only when J.D. finally settled with his grandmother Mamaw on a permanent basis that he had enough structure in his life to settle at school, eventually gaining entry to Yale Law School. It is from this vantage point – the kid who escaped – that he writes this book that makes sense of, but does not excuse, the hillbilly culture that is dying around him.
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This book is, in effect, a survivor story and an ethnographic report from an insider/outsider.
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It would be nice if one single book could offer a solution to the world's ills. That's not going to happen, and its not going to be this book. But in terms of setting out a coherent, if unfamiliar worldview held by important voting-blocs in America, this is an instructive and fascinating report from the other side.

For my complete review, go to https://residentjudge.wordpress.com/2017/12/18/hillbilly-elegy-a-memoir-of-a-family-and-culture-in-crisis-by-j-d-vance/

j
joshnpowell
Dec 09, 2017

I think the only thing I'd add to others' excellent comments is that I wonder how much of Vance's profit from this book winds up back in Appalachia. The story is excellent, but not entirely his. He writes of a suspicion of outsiders' writing...feels a little too clever and advantageous for him to be able to claim, from New Haven and San Francisco, to be an "insider." Maybe it's because I was born in Kentucky that I'm suspicious. Maybe I feel some guilt that, like Vance, I left for the Ivy League and may never make it back. Does he feel that guilt? Does it motivate him to at least send checks back? I don't completely doubt his character...I'd bet Mamaw gets a check. I just wonder whether the region as a whole benefits much from his telling the region's story. I hope so.

s
stedder
Dec 05, 2017

It's interesting to see that, though Vance is from southwest Ohio, he's given many people here the impression that he's from Kentucky or West Virginia. But southwest Ohio is indeed a region populated by hillbillies. Perhaps more insight into the area may be had by reading "Knockemstiff," a book of short stories by Donald Ray Pollock, about an area that had a serious pill problem before it became fashionable to talk about opioids.

k
kirpet
Dec 04, 2017

one of the best books I've read for years . The persistence of a culture of poverty

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runningbeat
Mar 17, 2017

runningbeat thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

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dzacher
Jun 28, 2017

In Hillbilly Elegy, J.D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hanging around your neck. 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.

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