Hillbilly Elegy (book review)

A new book review from The Movie Snob.

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, by J.D. Vance (2016).  This #1 New York Times bestseller has been talked about a lot in the political–cultural magazines I read.  According to Wikipedia, Vance was born in 1984.  He was raised in Middletown, Ohio, but had strong family roots in Jackson, Kentucky—Appalachia, in other words.  His family was bedeviled by poverty and drugs, and the culture mentioned in the book’s subtitle is something like “working-class Scots-Irish Americans without a college degree.”  His upbringing was difficult and involved some really hair-raising episodes, but he also had some lifelines (especially his maternal grandparents) that he could depend on when his nuclear family got too dysfunctional.  There’s not much self-pity in this book, which in retrospect reminds me a little of Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt.  And Vance doesn’t shy away from describing the self-destructive features of the culture he came from.  He himself escaped, managing to graduate from high school, join the Marines, survive Iraq, and graduate from Ohio State University and Yale Law School.  According to Wikipedia, Ron Howard has signed on to direct a movie version of the book, which could be very interesting.


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