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
Characteristics: 264 pages ; 24 cm

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Release date - 2020 | Starring; Gabriel Basso, Haley Bennett, Amy Adams, and Glenn Close.


From the critics


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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.

s
StoicBookaholic
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.

p
pateljh
Oct 30, 2020

This is a first person account of young man without a father and a drug addicted mother growing poor and still making a successful escape from that to become a Yale educated lawyer and now a founder of a company. All throughout the book he laments people make their lives miserable on their own - it is not the fault of the government! Here is a quotation -

“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.”

m
Mietters
Oct 05, 2020

I lived in Middletown for a few years & thought it was much* worse of a “hillybilly” experience than the book only seems to scratch the surface of. I worked at the golf club Vance worked at and served Ron Selby his beers at the turn (9th hole). The writing style is meh and yes, it is a memoir of someone with something to prove. I’m not sure if it went over quite as planned.

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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.

l
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

b
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

r
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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