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Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis
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Archive: Other Books > Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance (3 Stars)

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Jeremiah Cunningham | 717 comments Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance
3 Stars
Audiobook

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 class

Hillbilly 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 Positives of Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis
Despite the three star rating, I did find a lot of positives in the book and a lot of reasons to enjoy it and recommend it to others. The very fact that Vance lived the life in the rust belt but also escaped the traps of that life in and of itself makes the story palatable. The honesty with which he is able to write about life in Appalachia keeps the reader from feeling as though the book is a sob-story or a lengthy excuse for the problems of the region. I also appreciated that the book did not turn into a political treatise. Vance never equates the problems or solutions of the region with any particular political party or even the government itself. This is a welcome approach to a book centered on social issues. These are just a few of the reasons that despite a three star rating I would recommend this book.

The Negatives of Hillbilly Elegy
I believe I made a mistake in trying to listen to this book through Audible instead of reading in print. While I like the idea of Vance narrating his own book, the execution of the narration was severely lacking.

My other real negative with the book was that due to the scattered nature in which it was written, the social commentary was often not as hard hitting as I would have liked. I understand that the author was writing about his own family, but it often felt as though he was holding back on being completely honest about the problems and the scope of the problems in the rust belt. Oddly enough, the ending of the book provided ideas regarding potential solutions that hit harder than the stories of the actual problems.

Overall, I would recommend this book but I would certainly advise to avoid the audio book format.


message 2: by Meli (new)

Meli (melihooker) | 3682 comments Good to know about the audio.
I have this on my "want-to-read" but not TBR, so someday hopefully I will read this.

Great review.
I love your format btw, very easy to understand what was good / bad and temper that to my own tastes as a reader.


Jeremiah Cunningham | 717 comments Meli wrote: "Good to know about the audio.
I have this on my "want-to-read" but not TBR, so someday hopefully I will read this.

Great review.
I love your format btw, very easy to understand what was good / b..."

Thanks for the feedback on the format of the review. Everyone has their own style and I struggled to find a format that worked for me on a consistent basis. I finally settled on this one, and with rare exceptions it seems to work well.


message 4: by Amy N. (new)

Amy N. | 256 comments I like this review format too.

This book has been on my radar for a while, but I was leery of the potential for party politics. Glad to know he doesn't go that route.


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