Hillbilly Elegy

Hillbilly Elegy

A Memoir of A Family and Culture in Crisis

Downloadable Audiobook - 2016
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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 classHillbilly 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.
Publisher: New York :, HarperAudio,, 2016
Edition: Unabridged
ISBN: 9780062477521
0062477528
Branch Call Number: e-audio
Characteristics: 1 online resource (1 sound file (06 hr., 49 min., 35 sec.)) : digital
audio file,rda
Alternative Title: Library2Go

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h
hinahusain
May 01, 2019

The one thing that really struck me about this book was how much the stories and accounts shared by JD Vance (a "hillbilly" American) sounded like stories you'd expect from immigrant communities and people living in the developing world. I guess that shows how much we don't know about what's going on in most American cities, and the poverty and struggle white working-class people face.

The book was overall very good, though it did get a bit slow in the middle. I listened to the audiobook and am glad I did because if I had to read some of the slower sections, I may have lost interest in finishing the book. The book is basically a very personal account of the author's experiences and his insights about the lack of upward mobility in struggling American communities. One thing that was off for me in the book was a lack of emotional investment in the people the author talks about. I don't think this is a fault of the author or the way the book is written. I just didn't know JD Vance and couldn't get very emotionally tied to his story since I knew absolutely nothing about him prior to reading his memoir.

I would encourage people to read this book because it has some very poignant insights about identity and how childhood experiences and situations outside our control shape us into who we are. It's also a somewhat humanizing account of the people we commonly refer to as "white trash" or "trailer trash". I think JD Vance is doing a service for his community by bringing to light the problems they face, though not all the issues are because of outside circumstances. I would have liked for him to talk more about the negative impacts of religion and the role it's playing in keeping a lot of people ignorant in these parts of the country (he touches upon it now and then, but not in much detail). Hillbilly culture in itself is very flawed, with deep-seated sexism, patriarchy, honor focus and overall lack of educational drive that many people continue to perpetuate.

JD Vance does a good job of providing a balanced and unbiased (as unbiased as one can be) account of what's going on in middle America. This book will help people see what much of society in the richest country in the world actually lives like, which is not an easy thing to do

j
JANMAYS
Apr 11, 2019

DID FOR BOOK CLUB - some liked more than others. Not my favorite

p
pimalib2015
Mar 09, 2019

Fascinating in a train wreck kind of way, but also humorous in Vance’s self examination and cultural observations. His Elegy is more than simply about Hillbillies, it is about our national identity in many ways. Only 6 hours long, well read in Vance’s voice, I am thankful to have given time to it and would encourage you to do so.

j
jquick99
Jan 09, 2018

I enjoyed the book as a memoir of his hillbilly/white trash extended family. I found it interesting/entertaining and joyful that these people don’t live near me.
The author’s reading of his book is excellent, but do wonder if there are photos in the hardback book.

JCLHopeH Jan 06, 2018

Vance is an excellent reader for this audiobook of his own memoir, which is already a well-written piece of personal reflection against a backdrop of sociology. It's given me plenty to contemplate for a pretty quick read.

c
chrstphrbrwn
Oct 17, 2017

Like another reviewer, I didn't find any new answers to the perceived current political and cultural crisis as the promotion of this book often promised. I instead found a healthy introspection of Vance's family, its behaviors, and culture of abuse that hit very close to home and often times mirrored aspects of my own family.

h
hitthebooks
Sep 24, 2017

An eye opener for me about hillbillies and how they live, live and survive between Kentucky and Ohio. The life of his and how he grew up was hard but made him the person he is today and that can be said of all of us. He was so lucky to have grandparents to help him through, just like me. I enjoyed the recounts of his life very much and it showed how you make of your life what you want and how each person is affected differently by things that happen to them. I Enjoyed this book.

t
thepudman
Aug 22, 2017

For those not familiar with rural life, this books tells what it is like to grow up poor. And for those who did grow up poor, it really hits home. I listened to it on audio book, and it was on point. It really tells how life is for a certain segment of the population. Highly recommended.

slawr084 Apr 14, 2017

I have an affinity for non-fiction that's deliciously riddled with cuss words, and Hillbilly Elegy doesn't disappoint!

b
Bududo
Apr 10, 2017

The author tells the story of his upbringing in eastern Kentucky and later Ohio within a family with colorful characters, violent culture, and finely honed sense of honor but with little connections with aspiring upward mobile middle class America. The author manages to raise above the expectations for his family and culture by enlisting in the Marines, graduating from Ohio State, and getting a law degree from Yale. The book resonated with me to some extent: I was born & raised in rural east Tennessee, enlisted in the Marines out of high school, and received a graduate college degree. This back ground lets me appreciate the dissonance of outlook and culture differences between the working class and Ivy league elites of America. The aspect of the book where the author is tenuous ground the impulse to generalize from his specific experience and background. A number of times, he asserts that his neighbors and friends have similar experiences. Even so, it is questionable to extrapolate from this experience to large portions of the populace. Regardless, this story is compelling and well written.

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chrstphrbrwn
Oct 17, 2017

chrstphrbrwn thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

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chrstphrbrwn
Oct 17, 2017

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

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