Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis Review

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 America’s 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.

Title:Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis
Edition Language:English

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    Some Testimonial About This Book:

  • Julie

    Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance is a 2016 Harper publication. When I first noticed this book popping up on Goodreads, I admit the title really threw me. I hate that word ‘hillbilly’ because it sound...

  • Jessica

    I read this book as an advance galley, long before it became a Thing and I did not read this book because I wanted Vance to explain Trump, though he's somehow been chosen by liberal media as the perso...

  • Lauren Cecile

    Very candid account of growing up disadvantaged and white. The parallels between his demographic and a historically, systematically marginalized Black America are evident. Both populations deserve und...

  • Jon

    2016 is the year of Donald Trump, and J.D. Vance's Hillbilly Elegy should be at the top of every politico and thought leader's reading list living in the Acela corridor. Vance is both an excellent wri...

  • Bill  Kerwin

    Have you ever wondered what became of the Scotch-Irish, who dug America’s coal, forged America’s steel and built America’s automobiles, who worked for the American Dream Monday through Friday. p...

  • Christy

    Hell hath no fury like a strong Protestant Work Ethic without work. Okay – that was my original, but it should have been Vance’s! Instead, he mostly blamed the poor for being poor, lazy, and gener...

  • Elizabeth

    ...People talk about hard work all the time in places like Middletown. You can walk through a town where 30 percent of the young men work fewer than twenty hours a week and find not a single person aw...

  • Rebecca Robinson

    I'll be honest I didn't totally finish the book before giving up. I hear Vance on NPR and the story caught my attention. Yet, what I thought would be a better analysis of American economics and povert...

  • Diane S ?

    Possibly the most timely read of the year, here in the United States. Not just a sociological view of this group of people I had heard nor read little about, but the experiences of a young man raised ...

  • Elyse

    AudiobookMy local book club will be discussing this book this month. I'll be attending- I almost took a 'pass'. I'm really glad I didn't. THE CONTROVERSY and DISCUSSIONS from reviews on Goodreads is a...