Hillbilly Elegy

Hillbilly Elegy

A Memoir of A Family and Culture in Crisis

Book - 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, NY : Harper, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, [2016]
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780062300546
0062300547
Branch Call Number: HD8073.V37 A3 2016x
305.562 Vance
Characteristics: 264 pages ; 24 cm

Opinion

From Library Staff

Book discussion date: January 28th, 2020. Memoir. 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

This memoir, by a former marine and Yale Law school graduate who grew up in the Rust Belt town of Middletown, Ohio, is both a compelling story, and a sociological study of working-class America

Biography/Memoir. Discussed February 15.

Combining memoir with sociological analysis, a former marine and Yale Law School graduate chronicles the plight of white working-class Americans through the author's own experiences growing up in a poor Rust Belt town. "Hillbilly Elegy" was named by the "New York Times" as on... Read More »

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BostonPL_LauraB Jan 30, 2017

For people who have never lived in a rural area, or frankly anywhere other than a coast (the coastal elite), this memoir will be shocking to you and possibly give you answers that you are seeking after the election (or at least that is what many reviews will have you believe). Because I went in t... Read More »


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j
jackhwolf
Apr 07, 2021

This is a riveting memoir of a boy growing up in a dysfunctional family in the rust belt who by sheer will and the love of key family members escaped generational poverty while seeing his mother succumb to drug addiction.
It shines a light on white poverty in the way that Jeanette Walls books did in the starkest terms while showing both sympathy and abhorrence for the cultural seeds of the "hillbilly" culture.
The popular movie on Netflix is fairly faithful to the book and worth seeing.
The book goes into more didactic analysis on the plights of the culture the author came from. The author's family was part of a great migration of poor whites from KY and WV to the industrial midwest, in his case southern Ohio, where the factory base was crumbling and opiate abuse became rampant.
Noting the scree of the one poster, here,yes JD Vance has become somewhat a celebrity in conservative circles by pointing out some liberal, as I am, misunderstandings, and similarities in Appalachian poverty that heretofore has been just made a black/white dichotomy, but he is as critical of the grievances of the MAGA crowd, noting thgere propensity for conspiratorialism, as he is sympathetic with their plight, one he shared.
The book is well written.

t
tempus1
Mar 15, 2021

Vance is a vile, opportunistic, money-grubbing little MAGAtrash snob and proto-NAZI a la HeeHawley. Millionaire money-manipulator, best selling 'author', Yale Law graduate, used to work for homocon scum Peter Thiel; but that doesn't fit his fake narrative.

This insufferable snot wants to be known as a blue-collar author of autobiography about "white economic anxiety," and as a 'warrior' in the opiate 'war.' He got rich mainly off exploiting his white trash family's drug and alcohol addictions in the sleaziest possible way. This book is disingenuous and miserable propaganda. That is all.

n
NMostacada
Feb 16, 2021

I really enjoyed this reading. I think I enjoyed more than I normally would for a few reasons, one being that I have family that are similar to J.D.’s and are hillbilly transplants that moved to Ohio but have Appalachian roots. Second that I saw the Netflix movie and really enjoyed that before diving in, so I had faces and voices to go along with all the characters. I really enjoyed the beginning where J.D. includes sociology and historical facts among his childhood to add some depth to his experiences. I do recommend this read to any one living in Ohio who is interested in sociology.

f
firefly5
Jan 18, 2021

JD Vance tells the story of his life growing up as a 'hillbilly'. He was very poor, lived with his grandparents most of the time because his mother had problems with drugs and men. His father was out of his life. Through determination on his part and the love of his grandparents he graduated from Yale Law. he shares many things he learned along the way and credits his time in the Marines with achieving maturity.

s
saniru123
Jan 17, 2021

This is not a comment about content as I found it an interesting commentary on the subject. As a self-proclaimed aficionado of recorded books, I say Vance was a terrible, terrible narrator. Very seldom can an author do justice to their work by doing the narration and this was NO exception. He should have had this decent story presented by a professional.

s
SJeffery
Dec 22, 2020

The last few chapters were the most important read for me as they reflected so much of my life.

c
carolwu96
Dec 14, 2020

According to stereotype, Hillbillies, people of the Appalachian, are uneducated, unemployed, and unmotivated. Abandoned when factories left the Steel Belt, they suffer from a high rate of drug usage and domestic violence and, despite the decades that have passed, things don’t seem to be getting better.⁣

In his memoir, Vance describes his experience as a third-generation Hillbilly. His grandparents had profited from the economic prosperity of the Steel Belt, but now they were also collaterally damaged by its collapse. Vance’s grandfather was an alcoholic, his mother a drug abuser, and in his most helpless moments, a young Vance had to lie in court to avoid being put into foster care. ⁣

On one hand, Vance’s story sounds like the epitome of the American Dream. He eventually attended Yale Law School, leaping over socioeconomic barriers and lifestyle changes. On the other hand, his identity still haunted him: he had anger issues and trouble maintaining long-term relationships. Yet he acknowledged that he was already fortunate for having caring grandparents. What about those who did not have role models? He asked. How would the majority of Hillbilly posterity have a future? ⁣

As a 1.5 generation immigrant to Canada and once an international students in the States, I identified with our author to a surprising degree. I still find myself at a loss during certain Western social situations and testing the waters academically and professionally. In a way, Vance is as much of an immigrant as I am; the cultural shocks and insecurities he had suffered were not any less jarring. ⁣

I had already read about the Hillbillies in works such as Dopesick and Good Economics in Hard Times, but Vance really humanized the families and communities that would otherwise have just been statistics. We can say the suicide rate is X and the drug usage rate is Y, but behind these numbers are families fleeing from their pasts and children struggling for a future.

e
EucaryaM
Dec 05, 2020

On Netflix right now.....heartbreaking to watch, but worth it!

m
mkpederson
Nov 17, 2020

Understanding others, at least trying to, is important I think. This book was a reminder that not everyone in the US is born with all the breaks but much is still possible in this country. Change is the one constant we all face no matter what.
And how important a Grandmother’s love is.

m
munyongl
Nov 15, 2020

I like very much like what you have done to provide a accurate summary description of a book and provided comments from other readers. I am a loyal non-fiction reader and want to know about the author as well as the theme of the book.

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Notices

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l
LThomas_Library
May 07, 2018

Other: Topics: Inequality, Race, Religion, Education, Mental Health (Substance Abuse)

l
LThomas_Library
May 05, 2018

Frightening or Intense Scenes: Frightening and intense scenes.

l
LThomas_Library
May 05, 2018

Sexual Content: Strong sexual content.

l
LThomas_Library
May 05, 2018

Violence: Strong violence.

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LThomas_Library
May 05, 2018

Coarse Language: Strong language.

c
chrstphrbrwn
Oct 17, 2017

Coarse Language: Lots of swearing, but always in context of the larger argument presented by author.

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bell5133
Jan 16, 2020

bell5133 thinks this title is suitable for 13 years and over

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bell5133
Oct 03, 2019

bell5133 thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over

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LThomas_Library
May 04, 2018

LThomas_Library thinks this title is suitable for 17 years and over

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chrstphrbrwn
Oct 17, 2017

chrstphrbrwn thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

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runningbeat
Mar 17, 2017

runningbeat thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

Quotes

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p
pateljh
Nov 05, 2020

“There is a cultural movement in the white working class to blame problems on society or the government, and that movement gains adherents by the day.
Here is where the rhetoric of modern conservatives (and I say this as one of them) fails to meet the real challenges of their biggest constituents. Instead of encouraging engagement, conservatives increasingly foment the kind of detachment that has sapped the ambition of so many of my peers. I have watched some friends blossom into successful adults and others fall victim in the worst of Middletown’s temptations – premature parenthood, drugs, incarceration. What separates the successful from the unsuccessful are the expectations that they had for their own lives. Yet the message of the right is increasingly: It is not your fault that you are a loser; it’s the government’s fault.”
“There is a cultural movement in the white working class to blame problems on society or the government, and that movement gains adherents by the day."

b
bell5133
Jan 16, 2020

“No person’s childhood gives him or her a perpetual moral get-out-of-jail-free card.” (334)

“whenever people ask me what I’d most like to change about the white working class, I say, “The feeling that our choices don’t matter.”
― J.D. Vance, Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis

Summary

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d
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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