Friday, May 5, 2017

Hillbilly Elegy: Book Review






Hillbilly Elegy
By JD Vance


I purchased Hillbilly Elegy because of the election this year. The book was talked about on the TV news networks.  The book is not just about the life of living in the mountains. It is also about the culture, sociology, behavior, and history of living in the mountains. Or what we know as "hillbillies".

The book was not an easy read. It is a memoir of growing up in one culture, Kentucky mountains,  (Appalachian Mountains) and then migrating to another( Ohio).  The book was written by the prospective of their grandson, JD.

He's Grandparents, and his mother, and himself, and his siblings had a difficult life.  His Grandparents married they moved to Ohio. They moved to the steel factory. Which was great for a time economically.  Unfortunately, many of the people that worked in the steel factory lost their jobs. No more jobs were to be had in the area. J. D. and his family economically, and culturally had a difficult time of it.

You would think this is what the book is about. But, it was more than that. It was about the culture clash between the south, and the north. Most families were not able to adapt from the Kentucky mountains migrating to suburbia. Coming from the Appalachian mountains to Middleton, Ohio. Which was very difficult for them and the others that came from Kentucky. J.D.'s Mawaw, and Grandfather were dirt poor in the Kentucky mountains. When the moved to Ohio things changed for the better economically. But, the culture differences were still there. Think of the Beverly Hillbillies.

                                                             

JD grew up knowing violence, domestic abuse, drug, and alcohol abuse. His Mawaw( grandmother), was a strong force holding the family together. She was a tough cookie.
Continually, J. D. was bounced around from house to house each time he's mother divorced. Finally by the time J. D. was fourteen years old. He's Mawaw wasn't going to tolerate it any longer. She wanted to give him a stable home with lots of encouragement to J. D. Mawaw felt education was a very important.

 Many children were surrounded by trauma inside and outside the school and home.  His Grandmother didn't want this to be an excuse for her grandson.  Which can include sexual abuse, domestic abuse, drug, and alcohol abuse, violence. The list can go on, and on.

J.D. become successful. He graduated high school, went into the Marines, eventually went to Yale, into law school. The hardest part was adapting from the "holler" to suburbia. Try this, while in law school he was going out to dinner with other college students, and instructors, asked what kind of wine he would like. He has never had wine in his life. Couldn't even pronounce the name. He was embarrassed as I am sure we would be too. I hate to tell him. This is not a "Hillbilly thing". Because I didn't know at that age either. But, I am sure that is not the point he is getting at.

My Review: Hillbilly Eulogy was a fast read. I read the book because of Trump's win. But, I don't think the book explain it. It is about the "Hillbilly Culture", I always wondered what it was like living in a rural, poor, area. I have traveled years ago through the Kentucky, and Tennessee mountains.  The book does give a glimpse of the culture. It was a very fast, but difficult read. If you ever wondered about the culture. I recommend the book.

 Below you will find J. D. on Ted Talks below. You will get a better understanding. I am very glad I read it. The only problem I had. I expected it to be about the people of the rural area and Trump and why he won. You can think what you want about why Trump won. I think there are many different reasons. This may be a theory. But, I don't think it is because of them.





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