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
Characteristics: 264 pages ; 24 cm


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Sep 14, 2017


Sep 11, 2017

Uh....skip it. This is a book that doesn't know it's direction. It does have good parts, but those are too few and far between to make this overall worth while to read. I think the main problem is that it's divided into three separate parts:
1. Kid growing up as a hillbilly. This section is actually really well written. It's interesting and overall the most compelling part book. If the whole book was written with this same passion, I would have loved it. It's a hard look at a life that many of us don't experience first hand, thank god.
2. Oh my gosh, can you believe I am at Yale? This entire section is full of "x happened but I'm a hillbilly so how do I handle this? But oh well, I got the job/beautiful wife/interview/help from this professor anyways!" This section although obviously formative in his life (OMG, Yale!) there is not a lot of substance and seems like he basically had to add this section to up his page total
3. They need to help themselves (because I'm a Republican and did it on my own) but I have no suggestions! This section also seemed off and not cohesive. He does make interesting points about giving back and that college is not the path for everyone but offers zero suggestions how to improve people actually effected by opiod abuse and economic hard times. I by no means have the answers but I also didn't write a book about it either.

Overall, it would have been presented better in a collection of essays as opposed to trying to turn it into a "cohesive" narrative.

Sep 09, 2017

It's an OK book, but I read it because I heard it explains why so many working poors supported Trump. Honestly I didn't find the answer there.

Aug 29, 2017

I can't say I found this book to be as engaging as many others. In fact, I am kind of amazed it made it to the New York Times Best Seller list. I had sympathy for the author who had a difficult youth, but the book read as dryly as a sociology 101 textbook. To be honest, I didn't finish the book. I wanted to like it, but I just couldn't.

Aug 27, 2017

An elegant look at the trials and tribulations of the "Hillbillies" of the Appalachian mountains.Though ultimately successful in life the author describes the knife edge of circumstances and decisions that allowed him to succeed over others whom he grew up around. A very Human story that is quick to read and hard to put down. Well worth reading.

Aug 16, 2017

This book was hard to put down. JD's insights into the Appalachian people and culture were thoughtful and thought-provoking. I think about that part of the country a little differently now, thanks to his anecdotes and analysis. I'd love to read a memoir he writes 10 years from now, when he is further removed in age and distance, and perhaps has kids of his own. Overall, a great read.

Aug 11, 2017

What a poignant memoir by a person from what we perceive as a priviliged class - the white male. J.D Vance tells of a childhood spent amidst poverty, violence, and no sense of stability. He is one of the fortunate men from his class, the poor from Apalachia, who escaped the cycle of poverty largely due to the time he spent with his grandparents - Papaw and Mamaw. Lacking a male role model, as his mother flitted from one husband to another, J.D breaks out and tells the tale beautifully.
Mamaw may have been an unreformed simpleton but in her political astuteness lay great wisdom. It was only after he moved in with Mamaw that J.D started doing well in school. This was followed by a stint as a marine . It was this experience that taught him leadership and that to be a leader one had to earn the respect of followers. The experience as a marine prepared J.D. for college in a way nothing else could have. However, chaos begets chaos and forever J.D had to fight anger issues.
A well told tale which should be read by all.

Aug 06, 2017

A very timely read for me. My appreciation for this book increased steadily as I read further into the book and got to know J.D. Vance and his family. I found it to be very insightful and it made me take a second look at some of my opinions.

Aug 05, 2017

Loved the book. Was no sugar coating life growing up in lower class environment but author was able to entertain the reader with the various characters attics. Book gives a sense of never judge until you have walked in there shoes.

Jul 31, 2017

I actually enjoyed this memoir a lot more than I thought I would. As an African American I'm skeptical of anything that proposes to give me any kind of 'insight' into my country's current political slide into full-blown vitriol, hate, ignorance and demagoguery. Especially by an author who hails from some (now) deeply conservative voting territory. However I was off base as this turned out to be a vibrant, engaging and enlightening read. Although born of different sides of the spectrum, J.D.'s childhood mirrors those of plenty of people I knew growing up in an urban US city. It's well worth the read. If you do and enjoy it, I'd also recommend Postcards from the End of America, and Requiem for the American Dream. Both are intelligent, piercing and savage reads that are fantastic.

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Mar 17, 2017

runningbeat thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over


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