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Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and…

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis (edition 2018)

by J. D. Vance (Author)

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3,3412022,416 (3.83)300
Title:Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis
Authors:J. D. Vance (Author)
Info:Harper Paperbacks (2018), Edition: Reprint, 288 pages
Collections:Your library

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Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J. D. Vance


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Showing 1-5 of 203 (next | show all)
From Mamaw's foul mouth to J.D. Vance's easy going, chatty way of writing, this memoir was entertaining, eye-opening, and enlightening.

I think one of the most important things I took away from this, is the way "we" think. "We" meaning internally, about ourselves. We have these notions because of our influences, our upbringing, and how we perceive the world around us, and make our own individual decisions (assumptions in many cases) about what is, can be, or should be. What Vance pointed out, for example, was how he thought only someone rich and/or with connections, could ever attend Yale. (he attended) Yet, it turns out that's not the case at all, anyone has just as good a chance, and it can cost much less for that individual.

With his particularly dysfunctional background, and dysfunctional it was, he began to question why his folks, or anyone for that matter, would think they couldn't achieve these same things, such as that higher education, as someone more privileged. He was able to draw many conclusions, too many to give here. It came down to both complicated, and simple reasons. There was a term "social capital," (knowing/having connections with the right people) and being ignorant of the things a lot of us take for granted.

It's definitely the book to read in the current political climate if you want to understand anything about the Trump win - or simply to understand a different way of life. I could connect with a lot of this - although my family are not hillbillies. Yet there are/were many parallels here, and there were many moments as I read along where I was thinking, "exactly!" or "wow that sounds like "Aunt and Uncle XXXX." I'm glad I read this book. ( )
  DonnaEverhart | Mar 23, 2019 |
Rated: C+
Interesting reflection on the authors life struggles growing up in the hillbilly culture of Kentucky and Ohio. Interesting social commentary base on his own experience and as reflected it studies he references. He was on to the few to brake free and rise to the top of his profession. ( )
  jmcdbooks | Mar 18, 2019 |
3.5 stars.

Started strong, dragged a little in the middle, but redeemed itself at the end. I think I went into this expecting something along the line of Matthew Desmond's Evicted, but (as Vance says in the introduction) this a memoir, not a book of research. ( )
  melissa_faith | Mar 16, 2019 |
Author and lawyer J.D. Vance presents a slice of America that many of us are unaware exists. He relates many events that have happened in his family and to himself with frank and unabashed honesty. He has risen above and beyond his beginnings, but he has not turned his back on his roots. He tells of fist fights because of slights of honor. He speaks of drunken behavior, drug abuse, child abuse, and so much more. But he also lays out the problems that still continue: in a country that offers so much to so many, there are still hungry children who fear their parents, and yet are too afraid to tell anyone about it. You might not agree with everything he says, and you might wonder how the problem can be fixed, or even if it can, but regardless, Vance has stirred our emotions and given us something to ponder. ( )
  Maydacat | Mar 14, 2019 |
I'd like to say I came into this book with an open mind, but that'd be a complete lie. When I heard that it helps understand Trump voters, I immediately thought of the Homer Simpson line, "Just because I don't care doesn't mean I don't understand."

The book is well written and engaging, but ultimately it's just about how a boy loved his grandma with some awkward politics crammed along the sides. Throughout the book, he notes that his people don't like being confronted with hard truths, yet still shies away from the elephant in the corner - racism. Obama is viewed as "suspicious" and unrelatable, since he went to an ivy league school, but then they flock to trump, who is also an ivy league grad. His "I went to college and look at all these diverse friends I have!" claims are painfully awkward.

Additionally, his main point of the book comes when he's in training at the Marines, where his drill sergeant pushes him to challenge his limits. It is a good story with a strong message that's a highlight of the book. However, he wants to teach people that their choices do matter - i don't see how this is news to anyone. The choices of the white working class have had a dramatic effect on society, from closing access to abortion clinics, to blocking gun control, to fighting to allow bakeries to discriminate against gays. They could've fought for their jobs, healthcare, Infrastructure, etc but didn't prioritize it - just because you wasted your political capital doesn't mean you don't have it.

I could go on ranting way more, from his defense of payday loans to his cynicism about public policy (while crediting a government institution for saving his life). Ultimately, it is a neatly packaged story to mollify the sane conservatives who are trying to justify Trump while also allowing liberals to feel like they are enlightened because they read a bit about flyover country. ( )
5 vote rorytoohey | Mar 1, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 203 (next | show all)
added by janw | editNew Yorker, Josh Rothman (Sep 12, 2016)

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
J. D. Vanceprimary authorall editionscalculated
Carlson-Stanisic, LeahDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Taylor, JarrodCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Mamaw and Papaw, my very own hillbilly terminators
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My name is J. D. Vance, and I think I should start with a confession: I find the existence of the book you hold in your hands somewhat absurd.
Like most small children, I learned my home address so that if I got lost, I could tell a grown-up where to take me.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0062300547, Hardcover)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Sun, 03 Jul 2016 02:21:10 -0400)

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.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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