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Hillbilly Elegy
Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis | J. D. Vance
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 Americas white working class Hillbilly Elegy is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisisthat 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 Kentuckys 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. Vances 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.
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sarahbellum
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Panpan

Sloppy pseudo-sociology. A lot of what he claims to be “hillbilly” either isn‘t unique to Appalachia or only describes his own personal experiences. I‘m sorry that he had a hard childhood, but I‘m not really sure what to do with this memoir. Reading about his life and beliefs post-memoir make him sound like quite the hypocrite to me, but, then again, he did claim that hillbillies are bad at seeing their own flaws 🤷🏻‍♀️

June‘s #doublespin

ManyWordsLater Amen! His conclusions are counter to what he experienced. 2mo
Graywacke Yes to all that! A frustrating memoir and he‘s far worse in RL politics. 2mo
marleed I read this book a couple years before the author decided to scream his voice into politics. Knowing now what he has become I had to rid myself of my copy of his book because I just couldn‘t walk into my reading room and see his name on my shelves. 2mo
42 likes1 stack add3 comments
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Coleen
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Pickpick

I don‘t live in KY or OH, but I do live in a neighboring Midwestern state, and sadly, much of what was portrayed here accurately describes many in my community as well. It pisses me off, to be perfectly honest. I don‘t have the answers as to how to fix things, but I fear that things will get worse before they get better. If nothing else, this is a good book to instigate some serious discussions.

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brittanybooks
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Pickpick

Just incredible! It reads like a case study in attachment theory and resilience. #book36of2022

61 likes2 stack adds
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Kris10H
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Mehso-so

⭐⭐⭐
I don't want to get all political, but when I started listening to this book, I did not know anything about Vance's political leanings, or twitter comments he has made since the book was published.
Having said that, living and teaching in a Canadian province with a high child poverty rate, I see a lot of parallels between Vance's early life experiences, and those of many families in my community.

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CourtSmall
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Mehso-so

Book 214/2021. Finished 5/9/21 ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Completely overhyped, this was boring as, I only finished it as it was a nominated book in my readathon. Can't believe they made this into a movie.

megnews It was awful. And the audio with him reading it was even worse. 11mo
marleed I read/owned this book but recently donated it. I just didn‘t want to support this guy sitting on my shelves. Post reading the book I‘ve come to perceive him as an opportunist willing to scam others for his own success. 11mo
14 likes2 comments
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BiblioLitten
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Not quite what I expected it to be but I‘m going to go ahead with it anyway.
Is that print turned bookmark too distracting? 😁
#currentlyreading #weekendreads

Jee_HookedOnBookz Where did you get that print from? It‘s gorgeous! 9mo
BiblioLitten @Jee_HookedOnBookz I got this printed four years back to make cards for Littens. I had this on my laptop at that time. Originally it‘s a painting by Raja Ravi Varma titled ‘Lady with Jewels. (edited) 9mo
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Tiana
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Pickpick

8/10

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elisebarker
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Panpan

Meh. The writing wasn‘t that great. He jumped around a lot and honestly, he made it seem like anyone can just get out of the situation easily. As a trained social worker, I don‘t agree with a lot of what he said.

megnews I did not care for this either. I think he holds a lot of shame about his roots and while Appalachia surely has its problems it didn‘t deserve the broad brush I felt he painted it with. 1y
Readerann I agree 1y
elisebarker megnews I agree!! 1y
11 likes3 comments
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dariazeoli
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I‘m posting one book per day from my ever-increasing TBR. No description. No explanation. Just books to read. Join the fun if you want.

Day 92.

#fromthetbrstacks

bibliobliss Great book 1y
Sweettartlaura Are these books you own? Or just books you want to read? 1y
dariazeoli @Sweettartlaura These are the ones I own. 1y
50 likes3 comments
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AmyK1
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Pickpick

Interesting look at one family‘s experiences dealing with substance abuse, violence, lack of education and growing up a hillbilly.

This was my #doublespin for February @TheAromaofBooks

Crazeedi I know some didn't care for this book, but I really liked it 1y
TheAromaofBooks Great progress!! 1y
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Mccall0113
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Ugh. Why did I wait so long to read this?? I love looking at people‘s lifestyles that are different from.

Melismatic I enjoyed the film more than I expected to - it got mixed reviews but I thought it was well acted. 2y
Q84 I watched this and enjoyed it. 2y
PrezBookster The movie was great! Made me pick up the book! 2y
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LynnG
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Just finished this book and being from Kentucky, I found this very interesting. I‘m not specifically from the Appalachian region but have read about some of these problems plaguing that area. He also has an interesting take on the level of distrust of government from this region and how that seems to coincide with our current political climate. Great read!!

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Cathyloves2read
Pickpick

I usually avoid reading memoirs, but am glad I took the chance on this one. I wanted to read it before I watch the Netflix film. It was a story of bravery while faced with economic and cultural challenges. It takes a deeper dive into the challenges that the white working class in Appalachia encounter. It touches on politics, but not enough to overpower. I am looking forward to watching the film!

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GinaKButler
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I‘m getting a jumpstart on #bookspinbingo with Hillbilly Elegy. This has been on my shelf for a couple of years now. Over Thanksgiving I listened to podcasts instead of books and heard Megyn Kelly interview the author, which I really enjoyed! I‘m also using this as the Book You Picked for the Movie Adaptation for the Beat Your Bookshelf Reading Challenge. 📚

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GypsyKat
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Mehso-so

As a memoir, this is... fine. But I think it‘s important to remember that is all that it is. One man‘s take on his own life and his family‘s experiences, and therefore biased. Two and a half stars.

Jensol77 The Netflix piece is good. I was annoyed at the end of the memoir. The movie does a good job of summing it up. He carried on towards the end. I give the Netflix piece ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 2y
Andrea313 I agree with your take on this. It was fine; it was one man's account. But as it lacked the inclusion of broader data, it really irks me how this book is held up as emblematic of an entire groups' outlook and experience. 2y
LibrarianRyan I've seen the controversy, And I understand that. I watched the movie last night, and Agree, it's one person's tale. Not a grand look at an entire community. A look at his very specific community and his life in it. I didn't mind the movie, but don't think it was oscar worthy. 2y
SamAnne This was on my TBR list a few years ago and then I took it off. 2y
54 likes4 comments
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Nikki_E
Pickpick

I read this in about a day. Went in thinking it would live up to it‘s name but this was a seriously good read.

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Nikki_E

I was supposed to have surgery today, but thanks to a series of mix ups I‘ll be going in tomorrow. Waiting for a call any time now to let me know when I need to be at the hospital.

TrishB Good luck 🤞🏻 2y
Graciouswarriorprincess Good luck and sending hugs! 2y
kezzlou85 Good luck tomorrow 2y
Cheshirecat913 Good luck tomorrow. May it all go smoothly. 2y
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rather_be_reading
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Bailedbailed

Listened to more than half and just could not get into the story. I just didnt care what he was saying and was not getting the point of it. Also, another Litten told me about some controversy surrounding this one.

Schwifty Interesting. I was planning on reading this some day. Do you think the audio killed it? Like would it have been better in printed word? 2y
rather_be_reading @Schwifty that could be. his voice was boring and put me to sleep 2y
62 likes2 comments
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aperfectmjk
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Pickpick

I finished up my first November read for #bookspinbingo. I thoroughly enjoyed this one. Living so close to the Middletown community, I can't help but connect. I know there is controversy on how Appalachians are portrayed, I can't speak to that, but I can speak to the culture of Middletown. It has a reputation, but so does Hamilton. The opioid crisis is tragic right now. Fascinating read for sure.

@TheAromaofBooks

BeaG I‘m from Middletown. I haven‘t read this one yet. 2y
TheAromaofBooks Getting a jump on the month!! 2y
aperfectmjk @BeaG it doesn't paint a pretty picture of Middletown. He does show that you have the ability to change your circumstances rather than using it as an excuse. He promotes education. Like I said, it's pretty fascinating. Apparently they are making a movie for Netflix. 2y
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BeaG @aperfectmjk I may check it out. I had a great upbringing in Middletown. I curious to see where (street) he grew up on. 2y
aperfectmjk @BeaG his life was not great. His mom went through various men and addiction, he suffered from abuse. It's a sad story. 2y
BeaG WOW 2y
39 likes6 comments
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aperfectmjk
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Started this one today as my first read for #bookspinbingo this month and I've got to say, I'm completely engrossed. I have to confess though, I live in Hamilton, OH which is 10 miles south of Middletown, so it's very easy for me to connect and relate with this one. Plus I'm only two years older than the author.

Texreader I thought this was a good book 2y
25 likes1 comment
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PMMREADS
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Mehso-so

Interesting. I am interested to see if the film adaption 🎞 on Netflix. The author told his story well. As far as explaining socio economics and poverty; I feel those were his opinions.

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rather_be_reading
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Scochrane26 Please read about the controversy with this book & keep in mind that his story does not represent Appalachia (even though he says it does). 2y
rather_be_reading @Scochrane26 tysm bc i had no idea! 2y
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gobecauseyoucan
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Pickpick

My Dad has always said “The breakdown of our country happened when large companies closed”, which drew me to this book. It‘s a Memoir of a young man who made it out of a stagnant physical and mental place that many do not. Very interesting read. I laughed out loud at some of his Grandmother‘s antics, she was quite a character.

RenePenn I have this ebook but haven‘t read it yet. 2y
gobecauseyoucan It was interesting to me that some of the mindsets actually mirrored some in my own family, that spunky fighting spirit that‘s passed down from generations. 2y
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Ericalambbrown
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Mehso-so

Oofff. I‘m not sure what say about this one. It certainly hit close to home, though we are hillbillies of the Missouri variety. I feel like Memaw and my mother-in-law could‘ve been separated at birth. My husband and I both escaped to the Marine Corps as well, albeit a decade earlier than Vance. I also feel like Vance displays the genuine arrogance and self-loathing I see in poverty escapees here. That juxtaposition is an interesting 👇🏻

Ericalambbrown thing to behold. He says no govt program can help because it‘s his community‘s own fault, but he credits the programs in the Marines for teaching him how to be a proper adult. He identifies as conservative but it seems mostly in rebellion to his past. So many contradictory opinions. I would really like to hear his perspective in 20 years after he matures a bit more. (edited) 2y
Amiable Ooh-rah! What was your MOS in the Marines? Where were you stationed? My son is a Marine—stationed right now at the air station near Jacksonville, NC (he‘s a Huey helicopter pilot). 2y
Ericalambbrown @Amiable I was 2600 - Signals Intelligence, I was Lackland AFB - I spent most of my time at joint service commands. My husband was SF. 8541 - Scout/Sniper out of Pendleton. Very cool MOS your son has! That‘s awesome! 2y
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SamAnne I‘ve heard these criticisms of the book. It has been on my TBR list but then wasn‘t up to being irritated. I didn‘t grow up in hillbilly country (although my ancestors did) but I did grow up in a poor logging community which is very similar. The deck was stacked against my fellow community members. 2y
Ericalambbrown @SamAnne I am not sorry I read it. At all. I just often wished I could ask him “why do you think you feel that way?” as if I were his counselor. He just seems to labor under that same old “if I can do it, anyone can” misconception. I don‘t think he realizes he‘s smart and extremely high-functioning. No doubt he worked his ass off but not everyone is capable of doing half so much without significant intervention. 2y
Scochrane26 @SamAnne @Ericalambbrown I‘ve heard & read several Appalachian writers & advocates that don‘t like this because he generalizes his family issues. When I read it, I liked the memoir, but he lost me in the last part. Apparently, he now thinks he‘s a spokesman for Appalachia, which isn‘t appreciated by those who are actually raised in the area. And I don‘t think he‘s done anything to really help the area. 2y
SamAnne @Scochrane26 @Ericalambbrown I want to read it. Maybe after the Presidential election. It may give additional insight into some of my friends from high school who hold similar views. Even when they are still struggling. 2y
Freespirit I have this one on my book shelves but haven‘t read it yet. 2y
Amiable @Ericalambbrown My son spent almost a year at Pendleton for his advanced flight training —he loved it there! And he enjoyed Pensacola during flight school. Not so much a fan of NC, though. 😬 He‘s going out on a MEU to the fleet in the Mediterranean early in 2021, so that‘ll be a change of scenery at least. 😀 (edited) 2y
gobecauseyoucan Agreed, Memaw reminded me a bit of my own Grandma, I had several good chuckles. 2y
61 likes10 comments
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ElvinaGB
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Today's read. Recommended by two co-workers. I can see people I knew growing up in some of the characters.

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Honeybeebooks
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Pickpick

I realize this work was initially well-received and then as is often the case there was backlash. But with all memoirs I tried to listen to the author as I would a friend willing to share his history, his memories and his dreams to make it and then make a difference. To that end I enjoyed hearing the outlandish stories, cringed at some parts and cheered when the author overcame the many odds he faced.

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Murphytall
Pickpick

This is an engaging, poignant and emotional read. This memoir is so well written that you are cheering them on throughout the book. A great read!

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Hillea2
Pickpick

Listened to the audio book read by the author. I loved hearing JD tell his story, his failures and successes, and the power of family.

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Kayla.Adriena
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Bailedbailed

I bailed on this one a while ago but here's my two cents anyway: I did not even make it through introduction. When this book came out it garnered A LOT of attention. And then I read some reviews that said it was racist classist nonsense. And guess what: IT IS. I'm interested in Appalachian culture. Just not from this guy's perspective. The type that Donald Trump would hug. No thanks.

Megabooks It is terrible. Horrible book!! 2y
Schnoebs You should try the book that was published in response to it! 2y
KatieDid927 Oof, oh boy. It‘s on my shelf, but I‘ll add it to the sell/donate. 2y
See All 6 Comments
KatieDid927 @Schnoebs Stacked, thanks! 2y
Scochrane26 I love the one @Schnoebs suggested. There‘s a lot of great Appalachian writers & NF—Hillbilly Elegy is not one. My favorite eastern Ky writer is Silas House & he does a lot for the region. 2y
OrangeMooseReads I bailed on this too. 2y
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amyf0x
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Mehso-so

Vance tells the story of his upbringing in ‘hillbilly America‘ and eventual escape through higher education, interspersing discussion of the Appalachian region‘s unique history, culture and economic troubles.

Read April 10-20
Rated 2/5 ⭐️
Book 20/60

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kbibliophilific
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Finally reading this after sitting on my “to be read” shelf for a long time! This is going to be good!

bio_chem06 I loved it. If you are from any of the Appalachian states it will resonate with you. 2y
kbibliophilific @bio_chem06 yes! So good! Almost finished! 2y
45 likes4 stack adds2 comments
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bio_chem06
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#7books7days: 7 books that left a deep impression on me

#7 Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

I'm from a family who migrated from KY to OH, so this book spoke to me on many levels. I was lucky & had both my parents but I lived all of these stories. I didn't come away feeling better after reading this, but it helped me put into words the way I felt. It gave my husband a perspective on me & my family that I never could help him understand before.

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Toryp
Mehso-so

A very white story of growing up underprivileged. Gives little or no recognition to how his whiteness played into his success and tries to sell the Horatio Alger myth to contemporary society. I saw a lot of similarities in his story and mine but I feel it lacks a broad view of American life and the politics of power.

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Sweettartlaura
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Mehso-so

2.5 ⭐️ - between So-so and a Pan

Not sure what the point of this is: am I supposed to feel sympathy for the narrator, or the whole culture? I can get there for the narrator. But I really can‘t for the hillbilly culture. Which tells me this may not be written as well as he thinks. Usually when you spend time learning a culture, your appreciation for it grows. That didn‘t happen for me here. In fact, it was the opposite.

Amiable Great review 3y
KristenDuck Good perspective to keep in mind - I‘ll skip this one 3y
Sweettartlaura @amiable thanks 😊 3y
Sweettartlaura @KristenDuck honestly the more I think on it, the angrier I get with his subtext. If he had just left it as his own memoir, it‘s interesting & well-written. But trying to drape a culture which led to what seems like nothing but mayhem opens it up to substantial criticism. You‘re right - skip it. 3y
51 likes4 comments
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LibraryCin
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Pickpick

This was interesting. In addition to looking back on his own family life, he looks at statistics and some interesting insights about people in the area, their family dynamics and growing up poor. It is impressive that he worked his way up and out of that kind of life. He does credit that to a few members of his family who were good examples – interesting that they all married outside of the Appalachian culture.

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Vivlio_Gnosi
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Adding this #Nonfiction book to my #TBR stack for #NFNov
@rsteve388 @Clwojick

rsteve388 1 pt 3y
12 likes1 comment
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EmilyM
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Pickpick

A re read for me. Still such a good book. ⭐⭐⭐⭐/5

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Tiltedwhirled
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Pickpick

Much if this book was thoughtful. However, I wish the author had been more reflective of the ways that his own privilege effected his experience.

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TamTracy
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Pickpick

I‘m a social worker who absolutely loves everything sociological. I loved reading this personal account of a group of people I know very little about. His story is amazing and so well written. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

BeaG @TamTracy I grew up in the town where this story takes place. I haven't read it. 3y
TamTracy @BeaG Any reason you haven‘t read it? I‘m curious. 3y
BeaG @TamTracy I heard mixed reviews about it and it didn't peek my interest. 3y
64 likes2 stack adds3 comments
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danibel
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Currently reading

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comics_librarian
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Pickpick

It‘s an intimate approach to the problems that plague the so-called hillbilly population, presenting dysfunction as mere difference, but the author attempts to not make excuses; it is also impossible for this reviewer to judge the book fairly considering the similarities in lived experiences.

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Zoes_Human
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@howjessreads #friyayintro

1) It's a book of lies. He's not even from the Appalachia.

2) The Big Fat Quiz shows from the UK

3) Roasted corn and bacon chowder

4) Eastern (US)

4)Blue Dream (sounds chill)

4thhouseontheleft I didn‘t like Hillbilly Elegy either. 3y
britt_brooke I bailed on this book - and I very rarely bail. I‘m not from Appalachia, but I‘m from Kentucky and the generalizations killed me. 3y
14 likes2 comments
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AnnCollins
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This weeks secondhand book haul #secondhand #thriftedliterature Excited to read these but especially excited for Hillbilly Elegy. I‘m a sucker for Appalachian lit!

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candority
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Mehso-so

Equal parts social commentary and memoir, Hillbilly Elegy is an interesting and well-written account of growing up in a white, working-class family in America and the impacts of the ‘hillbilly‘ culture on individuals/families. I saw many similarities between Vance‘s experiences and the “redneck” culture in rural Ontario, and often found myself agreeing with Vance‘s analyses. Unfortunately, the book wasn‘t quite as engrossing as I expected it to be

SamAnne This was once on my TBR list but the mixed reviews have it in my third pile. It intrigued me because I grew up in a redneck logging community watching the devastation and social ills that come with extractive corporations. 3y
candority @SamAnne I thought it was a quick read. So depending on how fast you read, it would probably still be worth your time! 3y
84 likes2 stack adds2 comments
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ChristinasBookChronicles
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Pickpick

One of the best ways to understand someone unlike you is to listen to their story with an open mind. If you were born and raised in a big city, this book might be a bit of a culture shock. As a sociologist, these topics were already familiar to me, but I appreciate that this book gives you a more intimate and personal perspective of what living poor in the Rust Belt is like with the ability to reach a much wider audience, as is needed. Great read!

13 likes4 comments
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TuesdayReviews
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Pickpick

I have a lot in common with Vance. We‘re about the same age, we both grew up poor hillbillies, we both wound up going to elite law schools. I‘ve read Hillbilly Elegy twice now. It is so poignant and familiar. Full review at Hillbilly Highways (with pictures from my trip to Jackson and Middletown) - https://hillbillyhighways.wordpress.com/2019/07/31/nonfiction-hillbilly-elegy-jd...

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LogiKitty
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Pickpick

This is one of the best books I have ever listened to and I'm really awed by the similarities these folks experienced despite me living in a “liberal/better off“ area (where we pretend this doesn't happen) and where Vance spent his childhood. He challenges us to be compassionate for “his people“ because of the cycles of abuse and suffering generation after generation. He challenges us to see them for their values - family & tradition. THIS. 😍 😭

LogiKitty To be clear: I do not believe that where I live is some “better-off“ area. People just believe CA is this safehaven from terrible things because we're more liberal, but a lot of the same things happen here (poverty, abuse, alcohol and drug abuse, etc). 3y
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