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Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis (Hardcover)
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER, NAMED BY THE TIMES AS ONE OF "6 BOOKS TO HELP UNDERSTAND TRUMP'S WIN" AND SOON TO BE A MAJOR-MOTION PICTURE DIRECTED BY RON HOWARD
"You will not read a more important book about America this year."--The Economist
"A riveting book."--The Wall Street Journal
"Essential reading."--David Brooks, New York Times
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 Vance family story begins hopefully in postwar America. J. D.'s grandparents were "dirt poor and in love," and moved north from Kentucky's Appalachia region to Ohio in the hopes of escaping the dreadful poverty around them. They raised a middle-class family, and eventually their grandchild (the author) would graduate from Yale Law School, a conventional marker of their success in achieving generational upward mobility.
But as the family saga of Hillbilly Elegy plays out, we learn that this is only the short, superficial version. Vance's grandparents, aunt, uncle, sister, and, most of all, his mother, struggled profoundly with the demands of their new middle-class life, and were never able to fully escape the legacy of abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and trauma so characteristic of their part of America. Vance piercingly shows how he himself still carries around the demons of their chaotic family history.
A deeply moving memoir with its share of humor and vividly colorful figures, Hillbilly Elegy is the story of how upward mobility really feels. And it is an urgent and troubling meditation on the loss of the American dream for a large segment of this country.
At her parents’ wit’s end, 15 year old Wren is sent away to a last-chance desert survival camp due to her out-of-control weed-smoking, alcoholic bingeing, petty thievery and lying. The camp counselors (“jailers”) use tough love, directness and surprising storytelling-therapy to try to straighten out the wayward teens in the camp. Wren bristles at everyone who tries to help her, and her hard won survival skills – finding water, making fire – coupled with her own breakdown and realization that she was heading down the extreme wrong path is painful with hidden truths. The quest to find oneself in the desert is just the beginning of Wren’s story to find the correct path in life, once home. This book will resonate with both wayward teens, perhaps exploring the darker side of their misdeeds, as well as a teen looking for an adventurous read. - Maureen