There are certain types of memoirs I am drawn to - not the celebrities, the rich, the famous. No, I am drawn to the stories of ordinary people. Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance is one of those stories.
"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 that's just the surface story. Vance takes us inside the struggle of generations of his family to attain that 'American Dream.'
Vance pulls no punches, discussing the alcoholism, drug addiction, violence and abject poverty that were an everyday part of their lives. But on the flip side of the coin you'll find the strong family ties, the unwavering love, loyalty and determination to persevere and succeed. His family's story is not unique. It's the story of every disenfranchised working class family in America.
Vance is unflinching in his honest exploration of his roots. And I felt privileged to be part of that. The book is read by the author, adding an even more personal touch to his work. And honestly, I would have loved to have met Vance's beloved grandmother "Mamaw, who was an integral part of his own success.
Absolutely fantastic listen! Listen to an excerpt here. Or read an excerpt here.