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.
Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a family and Culture in Crisis J.D. Vance Harper, 2016 Source: My Own Bookshelf
J.D. Vance has roots in Kentucky and grew up in Ohio. He considers himself a hillbilly, and in Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis presents what constitutes a "hillbilly" stereotype, what life was like for him and his neighbors, and why he was able to escape the poverty, drugs, and addiction that affected so many people that he knew. He backs up his thoughts with research and statistics, and provides his opinion on what can "fix" the socioeconomic problems that haunt hillbillies.
He interweaves his examination of culture with his memoirs. Though he grew up poor and in an unstable environment, his grandparents were always there for him, encouraging him to do well. He graduated high school, entered the military, and earned his Bachelor's degree. He fulfilled his dream of becoming a lawyer by attending Yale law school. One of the highlights is when Vance examines why he succeeded in obtaining a high-paying job. The most interesting part is when he shows a less-than-flattering view of himself showing how his childhood trauma still affects him and his relationships today. Overall, this book is an excellent examination of American culture.