Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J. D. Vance
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SummaryHillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J. D. Vance audiobook
is a touching memoir about Appalachian culture
and the American dream from the inside.
Hillbilly Elegy is an analysis made from the personal experience of J. D. Vance about the crisis of white working-class Americans. Statistics about the decline of this group have been provided a few times, but the situation has never been explained in such a deep and personal way, coming from someone that belongs to that class. Vance portrays the way that social, regional and class decline feels like when it is part of your identity.
The memoir starts with the story of his family, during postwar America, when his grandparent moved from Kentucky’s Appalachia region to Ohio with the objective of escaping from poverty. The managed to raise a middle-class family and his grandchild, that is to say Vance, graduated from Yale Law School, which is a conventional indicator of their success in achieving generational upward mobility.
However, this is just the tip of the iceberg, because Vance’s extended and nuclear family, especially his mother, struggled deeply with the demands of their new middle-class life and could not fully scape the legacy of poverty, alcoholism and abuse.
Through his memoir, Vance shows how upward mobility really feels and how he is also affected by the abusive legacy that so characteristic of their part of America. The audiobook makes you reflect about the ironic loss of the American dream for a large segment of this country.
ReviewHillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J. D. Vance audiobook
is a great source of information about Appalachian culture from the inside, written by someone that was raised with it.
He tells us everything about his problematic childhood, with a mother that had troubles with drugs and a father that was absent. The most powerful influences were his grandparents that worried about his education and transmitted him their belief in individual honor and family solidarity, teaching him to live by a hillbilly code of self-sufficiency and loyalty. He didn’t really pay attention to them until he joined the Marines and his life started to go in the right path. After that, he went to Ohio State University and, eventually, he ended up in Yale Law School.
He explains how economic decline affected the hillbillies that were seeking the American Dream by reducing their work opportunities. He also talks about his struggles at university, where high class students
took a lot of things for granted, like the way they had to dress for an interview.
The first half of the memoir is mainly about the story of his family and the ways their situation affected him in the future. Towards the end of the memoir he goes to the cultural and political side of the issue. He talks about the responsible of the situation, where the government has a part of it, but mostly the hillbilly himself. It is important to consider that he is a conservative and that his opinions follow that path.
This audiobook is fantastic because it was recorded by J. D. Vance
himself, and as this is a memoir, everything feels more personal and real.
Although this is not a perfect book, there is so much one can learn from it. It is a good start to start talking more about the Appalachian culture and about white working-class Americans, because we are in a time when it seems like the only ones that care about Appalachians are Appalachians themselves.
What was the author’s desired outcome? What did he really want us to understand?
I think that the intention of the author was to raise awareness about the topic and that more people saw beyond the stereotypes, that they felt the same kind of sympathy for the underprivileged he felt for his his mother.
Is Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis appropriate for a teenager?
I would not recommend it as a starter or as an introduction to the topic, unless he or she has previously read similar books.
Was anyone else as horrified as I at those aspects of the Hillbilly culture the author praises? Mamaw was mean; she cussed, threatened and used physical violence and he admires her- why?
Not necessarily. She was his mother and tried to do the best she could. She was what he had, the one that would be there for him… there was not really another option, you only get one mother.
Do you recommend Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis audiobook?
Yes, I recommend it over the written book, as it is read by the author himself and the feelings that his voice transmits are unique.