Book club selects 'Hillbilly Elegy'
Madras Bookies, an adult book club, will be starting the book "Hillbilly Elegy," by J.D. Vance, at their next meeting at 10 a.m., Monday, Feb. 27, at the Madras Aquatic Center.
The group is free, but people need to register at the Jefferson County Library.
From a former Marine and Yale Law School graduate, "Hillbilly Elegy" is a poignant account of growing up in a poor Appalachian town, which offers a broader, probing look at the struggles of America's white working class.
Part memoir, part historical and social analysis, J. D. Vance's book is a fascinating consideration of class, culture, and the American dream. Vance's grandparents were "dirt poor and in love." They got married and moved north from Kentucky to Ohio in the hopes of escaping the dreadful poverty around them.
Their grandchild (the author) graduated from Yale Law School, a conventional marker of their success in achieving upward mobility for their family.
But Vance cautions that is only the short version. The slightly longer version is that his grandparents, aunt, uncle, and mother struggled to varying degrees with the demands of their new middle class life and they, and Vance himself, still carry around the demons of their chaotic family history. Delving into his own personal story and drawing on a wide array of sociological studies, Vance takes readers deep into working class life in the Appalachian region.
That demographic of the country has been slowly disintegrating over 40 years, and Vance provides a searching and clear-eyed attempt to understand when and how "hillbillies" lost faith in any hope of upward mobility, and in opportunities to come. At times funny, disturbing, and deeply moving, this is a family history that is also a troubling meditation on the loss of the American dream for a large portion of the country.