Elyse Walters's Reviews > Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis

Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance
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it was amazing


My local book club will be discussing this book this month. I'll be attending- I almost took a 'pass'. I'm really glad I didn't.

THE CONTROVERSY and DISCUSSIONS from reviews on Goodreads is already ENGAGING!!!! Seriously, I spent more time reading through every review - and all the comments on THIS BOOK - more than any book in all my years on Goodreads.
My interest elevated - and my emotions were entangled. The passion of expression from people about this book - positive and negative - both - shook me up in a way that's hard to explain. Julie's review had me in tears. April's review deepen my compassion for pure courage. Diane first brought awareness to me that this is a "timely" book, Rae express Mamaw and Papaw sooo lovely - ( I melted again reading about them especially after having my own experience too)... and Melora brought up points that I spent time thinking about. My entire review could be about my inspiration from something everyone else has said.

So.... I'm going to express random notes:

I WAS engaged while listening to Vance's Appalachian roots in Eastern Kentucky and the rust-belt city of Middletown, Ohio. Although he grew up in an unstable family --(abuse, abandonment, and poverty)-- his grandparents ( Mamaw and Papaw), were strong positive influences. It was hard NOT to give Vance my full attention with the type of stories he was sharing.
Vance has a VERY PLEASANT AUTHENTIC SOUNDING speaking voice by the way. He is very 'easy-on-the-ears'.
Half way through this audiobook---I started to notice a problem beginning with the title of the book. If the title were "Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir".. that would have been. Enough!!!!
Once he added family -Culture - and Crisis into the title.....my expectations as a reader was different than and ordinary memoir'.
So, the intentions of this book - memoir - purpose - cautionary tale - all get a little blurry. What we 'mostly' get is a straight memoir.
BUT.... at some point I started having so much fun--- ( fun not being the best word for all this tragedy)...but yes I started enjoying listening to Vance so much I no longer cared what the name of this book was--or even his purpose. My first belly laugh came when he wanted to stick a golf club in a guys ear. I actually liked when Vance used profanity, because it seemed against his character to who he is or the experience I was getting from him anyway.... His voice sounds so darn level headed - kind -inappropriate and smart- that I actually had a hard time imagining him being the little kid of some of these horrific things he was telling us. Something about hearing it, as opposed to reading it... from a very successful conservative responsible American -- kinda blew my mind.

I'm glad I listened to the audiobook. It wasn't a picnic hearing about how his mother physically beat him, but I sure was touched by his love for his sister. It's inspiring to listen to Vance share his story - his thoughts - and he did contribute some awareness about the culture......."ALL RICH PEOPLE PLAY GOLF"... ( you can laugh now... but he does talk about this)... It's all a little funny.

For me....it comes down to --in the end --I basically really like the guy. He touched my heart.

I also want to thank so many people for 'their' reviews--readers here on Goodreads -- all your reviews and comments made a big difference to me. This is really a community book in my opinion.

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Reading Progress

October 9, 2016 – Shelved
October 9, 2016 – Shelved as: to-read
November 2, 2016 – Started Reading
November 5, 2016 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-48 of 48 (48 new)

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Dean Elyse, tomorrow I'll fetch my copy from my favourite bookstore, and am full exited to be able to read it.
Looking forwards what you have to say about this....

Elyse Walters cool Dean! :) xo

Cheri I'll be getting to this one as soon as I can lower my "shelf" Elyse. Hope you're enjoying this!

Cheri Elyse, I'll be starting this soon (I HOPE), so I'm not going to read your review until ... well, you know. So glad to see you loved it!

message 5: by linda (new)

linda Weird but last one of my patients was reading this and I wrote it down to check out . I'm always so interested in human behavior etc

message 6: by Erin (new) - added it

Erin I loved your review. I've been meaning to read this book, but I'm a little worried about how he portrays Kentucky. Does he make us all sound like toothless hicks? Or is he fair?

message 7: by linda (new)

linda lol fetch my copy (dean)

message 8: by debra (new)

debra Wonderful review,Elyse! Have it on hold.

Melora Great review. Elyse! I thought the close relationship with his sister (and how he loves her children) was a particularly nice aspect of the book. His forthright personality came through clearly through the text, but I imagine that listening to him tell his story via audio book was even better! I'm glad you enjoyed the book.

Elyse Walters Thanks for the comments --(boy you guys are fast) --lol cuties!! --
I'm going to start with Erin's question --"Does Vance make us all sound like toothless hicks"? ---
"Toothless" was never the visual I got --so you can relax about THAT ---but --he makes it sound like ....
#1) IF ----anyone goes to College --they sure don't go far....(he had a great catchy quote about it) --I was going to write it down and remember it --but darn --with audiobooks --its so easy to just .....keep on listening ....then forget to get back to funnies -favorites and insightful sentences.
#2) -- its NORMAL that most families (adults) scream at each other --(kids get use to it)
#3) I 'did' get the feeling that there was LOVE --with the CHAOS... (tribal protection: "don't mess with MY sister...etc." ....which was moving) ...
...........Mostly --I thought Vance shared about HIS family --which is why I call this more a STRAIGHT memoir --and not TOO much about a culture-in crisis ----(because we didn't get to hear from other people) ---He 'could' have invited other speakers on his audiobook from his childhood days to speak. I've seen other authors do that --and its powerful.
so---not to worry ---
4) I really do believe this is a great community read.....
When you read through ALL the reviews --you SEE and FEEL how this book has touched people --and THAT'S worth talking about IMO!
Hope I answered your question xoxo

Elyse Walters linda wrote: "lol fetch my copy (dean)"

GREAT!! You won't be sorry! I think the audiobook was terrific --
His voice added to his own story! I could feel when he was 'really' into a memory that he would 'never' forget.

Elyse Walters debra wrote: "Wonderful review,Elyse! Have it on hold."

Great Debra....and I sure still want to keep reading all the reviews....
I see something from everyone --
There is a lot of 'details' he covers --
and readers pick up on things which speak to them --or something from their past....

Elyse Walters Cheri wrote: "Elyse, I'll be starting this soon (I HOPE), so I'm not going to read your review until ... well, you know. So glad to see you loved it!"

Audio? or physical? Just wondering? -- Either way -- When you listen to his voice -its sure hard not to be 'enrolled' into whatever he is saying.....
I think he has a 'gift' for this audio-thing....lol
He talks a little faster than most --but I liked it --(why slow it down?/ lol) ---

You'll love his older sister -(much less his mom) --- haha---
OH MY GOD --its hard to believe some of the stories he told us....
but we can chat later --you'll like it -- xoxo

off to the pool with Paul --(its been awhile since we soaked) --Sat. night date night is starting....lol
Oh Cheri --you must check out "Pure Genius"....Its AMAZING --a new medical TV series -takes place in Palo Alto....
EVERYONE .....check it out!!! Its VERY ADVANCE MEDICINE!!! WOW!!!

message 14: by Erin (new) - added it

Erin Good to know. As a Kentuckian I'm sensitive too how we are portrayed. I probably will read it. Thanks Elyse.

Cheri Elyse, you never fail to put a big smile on my face. Love you! xoxo

message 16: by Tooter (new)

Tooter A perfect example of why one shouldn't judge a book by the cover...or the title!

message 17: by Laura (new)

Laura Great review. I would have been turned off by the title as well. Glad it turned out for the best

Elyse Walters Melora wrote: "Great review. Elyse! I thought the close relationship with his sister (and how he loves her children) was a particularly nice aspect of the book. His forthright personality came through clearly thr..."

I liked several things YOU said Melora --and thought about them --from the clothes (I laughed and thought of you when I got to that part in the tape too) lol --- and you are so right --we didn't get enough 'culture' ---
but his voice was kinda 'addictive' (he's very charming in personality) --in a kind way too.

and thank you --- (I'm glad we 'both' read it)

Elyse Walters Cheri wrote: "Elyse, you never fail to put a big smile on my face. Love you! xoxo"

Cheri --laughing (I'm a wet noodle now) haha.............
off to eat something --dinner and a something on the TV BOX...
Let me know if you watch Pure Genius sometime --love to know what you think of "Bunkerhill" Hospital
smiling back at ya Cheri!

Elyse Walters Tooter & Laura... no kidding..,
The title of this book would have naturally had me look another way.
And.., at FIRST.., for a few days I read reviews trying to justify why I'd spend money on this book -and was considering skipping out on my book club this month ...( we meet in a book store on a Sat morning- discussions are always animated- 25 people attend / packed - with a WAITLISS to boot each month (it's a large highly organized functional Bay Area book club with)... I don't HAVE to attend each month but have been a regular for about 8 years -only missing a few times - and more this year - than all past years combined....so was feeling bad for not showing as often this year ( I was teaching Aqua yoga Sat.mornings this pass spring & summer and missed many --/ but THIS book I thought?? WHY? What's the deal??? lol
So - I was sure I'd skip out again -- hell its not as if I don't have enough books to read, but..
Then the REVIEWS were not all the same any longer ..
something was going on .....
My heart got hook-- my mind got interested - and my spirit invested ...
I'm not sure... time will tell I suppose.
Melora was really for it to end. Had I READ the book -- I'm SURE I would have been more than ready too...
But listening to him speak - was engaging in a walking - meditative- thinking way. Good walking companion. Sometimes it got TOO HEAVY though his stories -- I wished for them to stop. A normal mother doesn't try to speed in a car to try to kill herself and her child... and tell him that's her plan. Scary scary day!!!!
But it's what this book did to readers is what still stays with me...
It's hit some people hard and for reasons ...
You can FEEL these readers wish to god to make a difference in our culture!!

Elyse Walters Melora was ready.... not reading: correction

message 22: by Maureen (new)

Maureen Fantastic review Elyse.

Elyse Walters Thank you Maureen

message 24: by Esil (new) - rated it 4 stars

Esil Ok, I'm sold, Elyse. I've hummed and hawed about this one but will give the audio a try. By the way, I'm listening to Just Kids right now and it's fabulous as an audio.

Elyse Walters Esil -- omg ... I just asked you a question about that under your thread? Is it on overdrive by any chance? I'm sooo in for an audio with Patty Smith. I have the book but I love listening to her speak ....

And about THIS BOOK...,
Read two reviews for sure:'
Julie - 2 star
April 5 stars
And the comments.

This is one book where READING AS MANY REVIEWS BEFORE ...lol
listening ( and yes - I think we have picked the best way rather than read it from all I've gathered) ....
WILL ENHANCE our time with Mr. Vance. lol

In fact..,,nothing felt like a spoiler ... only a breath of fresh air if I got to part in the tape that somebody mentioned ... cuz then I chuckled and even remembered which member had an issue with this part. lol

You might drift a little at the start -- and takes a few minutes to get used to his voice, as he talks fast but then you really like it ... love to know what you think.
Then coming with me to my book group? Come stay here? We can hike too? :)

Elyse Walters Erin wrote: "Good to know. As a Kentuckian I'm sensitive too how we are portrayed. I probably will read it. Thanks Elyse."

I'm sensitive 'with' you Erin ---
and if anything hurts you ---It will hurt me too.........
I like to think the intentions of Vance of from a clean place 'even' if it does put money in his pocket. (that part is ok with me) --but I want his heart to be with integrity....
and I believe it was.

message 27: by Elyse (last edited Nov 06, 2016 03:09PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Elyse Walters I enjoy & need spots in 'heavy-subject' books, when I get a 'release laugh'....
A dinner scene with 'sparkling water'.....cracked me up. (tell me what you think when you get to it)
His days at Yale, were interesting too. :)

message 28: by Erin (new) - added it

Erin Elyse you are just the sweetest.

Elyse Walters Erin wrote: "Elyse you are just the sweetest."

Erin --I feel the same about you too! You, too 'sweetpea'! :)

message 30: by Kevin (new)

Kevin Ansbro Another upbeat review to brighten my day, Elyse! : )

Elyse Walters Thank you Kevin!!! :) xoxo

Cheri Elyse, I always feel like I have to catch my breath a little after reading your mile-a-minute reviews! I have not even heard of Pure Genius... Netflix? ...so I have no answer, is Bunkerhill Hospital part of Pure Genius? So confused!

Elyse Walters Laughing -- sorry --- yeah - my goofy chatterbox - spit it out ...
Pure Genius is a new medical show - it takes place in Palo Alto. The pretend name of the hospital is called Bunkerhill ...
It's CBS - Thurs. nights 10pm Pacific time

Was that better my lovely bicoastal-- lol -- friend?
I thought you'd get a kick out of the location -- and 'especially' the SHOW itself!
If you read THE GENE...
It reminds me of seeing some of the ideas in that book come to life!
Hope this helped!!
I'm coming back to quiz you.... lol
The head doctor of BUNKER HILL has an 'interesting' medical secret from most of his staff...

Hugs and happy Friday night date night! lol

Elyse Walters Oops the above comment is FOR CHERI

Cheri Elyse wrote: "Oops the above comment is FOR CHERI"

I knew that!!! Will see if I can find the past episodes somewhere... Thanks, I'll check it out. Hope your date night was wonderful!

Elyse Walters Cheri... and have a great weekend. xo.

JanB I enjoyed the audio version as well and despite how the book is hyped I agree that it's best read as a memoir! Great review

Elyse Walters Jan .... right? Rather than his leadership advice of how to change anything?
Jan, I talked with my friend-Lisi last night ...(YOUR Goodreads friend too)....
She read this book too...
Makes me that much more grateful to know you and Lisi are grandmothers--
You two have been hand pick for the job -- such a positive difference you both make!!!

JanB Ach, Elyse, another comment by you that I didn't get a notification of!
Anyway....I'm a month late responding but thank you so much for your sweet words! Grandmas can a mighty force, right? :)

Elyse Walters Jan...no problem... I can't keep up these days myself ..
I thought my new system would work.... and it does in many ways - for me- but it's not a perfect science.
Love those grandmas.. YES.

And... I'm getting a kick out of seeing old comments here.

I was telling Cheri about a new TV show call Pure Genius.
She thought I went bonkers....lol
Chatting a mile a minute...
It's true I do that sometimes.

Paul and I are still loving "Pure Genius". It's gotten better since it started. Paul even had tears in one of the episodes.

message 41: by Margitte (last edited Jan 30, 2017 06:45AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Margitte Love your review, Elyse. I did not want to read the reviews before I read it myself, although two reviews inspired me to read it. Well, I've just read the book and it was such a great discovery.

Elyse Walters Thanks Margitte... I read so many reviews on this book, plus our local book club discussion was packed that day.
Thank you, and now I'm going to zip over to your review.

message 43: by Sue (new)

Sue Elyse - someone just emailed me and told me she read this book recently. However also today I began to think about utilizing more of my driving and walking time and getting myself an audible book - this may be the one. I am sad to say I lived in western KY two different times - the first for 1 1/2 years and just recently for 6 years - and we have been over to eastern KY but not into the poorest of the poor areas. My church always had 8th graders from school heading over 3-4 times a year to help in rebuilding their homes and there was a never ending need for food and supplies that we were always donating to. So with saying all this I want to listen to this book based on your review. I always rely heavily upon them and am always appreciative of the time you put into them. Now the challenge will be to get this from our library!!!

message 44: by Amy (new) - rated it 5 stars

Amy Morgan I am going to see JD Vance on Thursday and I can't wait! he is coming to Pittsburgh so I am super excited!

message 45: by Lesley (new) - added it

Lesley Moseley First book for the year for our TV Book Club : http://www.abc.net.au/tv/firsttuesday...

message 46: by L A i N E Y (new)

L A i N E Y I've seen this a lot on my feed too! There's a controversy surrounding this? Maybe that's the reason it's so popular then? Anyway, I listened to the sample and his voice is 'easy on the ear' like you mentioned thanks for that Elyse, maybe I'll get the audiobook if I want to pick this one up then :))

message 47: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Just picked this one up at my local library today. Can't wait to dive into it!

Renee Kahl I am uploading my review of this book now--check it out.

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