In this internationally bestselling memoir and passionate analysis of a culture in crisis, 'Hillbilly'-born Yale Law graduate J.D. Vance takes a probing look at America's white working class through his own experiences growing up.
The book tells a true story of what social, regional and class decline feels like when you were born with it hanging around your neck. As his family's saga plays out, the book shows how J.D.'s grandparents, aunt, sister and, most of all, his mother struggled profoundly, never fully escaping the legacy of abuse, alcoholism, poverty and trauma.
Writing with piercing honesty, Vance shows how he himself still carries around the demons of his chaotic family history. Hillbilly Elegy is an urgent and troubling meditation on the loss of the American Dream for a large segment of the population. [Taken from book blurb, Harper Collins]
Most were surprised how interesting we found this book. We felt it was not well-written, repetitive and could have been cut by 20%. However this subject was fascinating and drew parallels to New Zealands poverty and ethnic problems. We found the Brexit promo mystifying but understood this is where Trump draws support. It prompted a great discussion.
Although could have done with some editing, it was a very good book. Easy to read, inspiring, and helped us to understand the appeal of Trump and MAGA.
A deep read which most of us appreciated. An insider's view of dysfunction in families.
An interesting story that led to good conversation. It didn't provide the insight into Trumpism that we thought it might, but for a group of mostly teachers it gave us insight into children and families and what it means to feel that you belong.
The group found the book very interesting - led to lots of discussion about families in N.Z. who live with intergenerational poverty. We were particularly struck by J.D. Vance's level of reflection on his life and the influences on him, and the ways he navigated the cultural divide.
An inspirational story.
Very interesting read - raised good discussion. Most of the group were totally ignorant of this topic prior to reading - drew parallels to NZ social issues too.
A very moving read.
The majority found this book book thought-provoking, interesting, and informative.
Most members struggled through this book because of the narrative style. It did generate an interesting discussion comparing our NZ culture with that of the author and the fact that it is happening today when, while reading the book, one could easily believe the setting was 100 years ago. Several of us thought the book was too wordy, there was unncessary repetition and it could easily have been shortened to make it more compelling.
An 'eye opening' book on life in Middle America, which does give a clue on how Donald Trump was elected President. A surprise to see how uneducated people were, and what a hard uncompromising life it was.
'Hillbilly Elegy' a great read. Generated great discussion.
We all loved this book, with the insights it gave into J.D. Vance's upbringing, and escape from the hillbilly culture. It was particularly relevant to the picture of American politics today with Trump at the helm. We could see instances of NZ culture in some of the descriptions (observations) he gave of certain parts of his family, friends, schooling and activities. An honest picture, told simply and easily read.
All members enjoyed it. The group asked me to comment on the excellent notes.
A fascinating look into a disadvantaged society by one of its own members. A thought-provoking discussion of what holds people back, and what helps them to move forward, although never totally free from the influences of their background.
Much to everyone's surprise, the group enjoyed this book!! It engendered great conversation regarding the 'characters' and the author's upbringing. The insight into Hillbilly life and their philosophy helped us get an understanding of the political issues and impact on the way they vote.
Easy to read. Intergenerational trauma, and nature versus nurture. Another story about yet another successful life in spite of history/education/impoverishment.
Very mixed reactions. Several disliked and didn't complete it but most found it extremely interesting, and a very thought-provoking read, and insight into the massive issues for those trapped in the Rust Belt of America.
A fascinating insight. A couple of members felt there was extraneous padding, while others felt the continual anecdotes re violence built up the portrayal of a culture and one particular life. Many questions arise upon reading the book - resilience and the ability to escape deprivation among them.