Sunday, July 16, 2017

Book 139: Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance

I could not put this book down. I read it in a couple of days during a school week break.

The story of J.D.'s experience growing up in poor white middle America was extraordinarily intimate, which is why it probably stayed on the New York Times Bestseller list for such a long time. His memoir painted a portrait of poverty, mental illness, addiction, death, despair, and violence that was his life before he joined the military and later, attended an ivy league school.

J.D.'s story is profound because at this point in literary history no one has written anything quite like it. It is a unique perspective into a society that is otherwise off limits to outsiders. I can only imagine the inner turbulence Vance must have had, feeling the need to protect the privacy of his loved ones while also wanting so desperately to tell his own story.

As I read this, I felt a bit confused. Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia - these are all a day's drive away from my home in Delaware and my birthplace, Philadelphia. Yet the community and people Vance described in Hillbilly Elegy seem to be worlds away from my own. It definitely gave me something to think about.

I hope you pick up this book - it was absolutely riveting.


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