The publication of J.D. Vance’s memoir could not have been more timely. In his account of growing up in a so-called hillbilly family, Vance offers a deeply personal, loving but clear-eyed view of his people, poor whites of Scots-Irish descent, endangered not only by economic forces beyond their control, but by their own fierce insularity and resistance to outside influences. Vance writes of his grandparents’ relocation from Kentucky in a wave of migration north to find work in the steel mills of Ohio, and the family’s subsequent struggle to hold on to middle class stability amid the decline following the closure of those same steel mills. Vance also gives us indelible portraits of family members: a mother struggling with addiction, an absent father’s strict adherence to conservative Christianity, and, most movingly, of his grandmother, known as “Mamaw,” an awesome, gun-owning matriarch who provided the only real stability he knew. Hillbilly Elegy is an engrossing, readable memoir, as well as a necessary perspective on the failure of the promise of American prosperity.
Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis - J. D. Vance