Hillbilly Elegy Summary
Hillbilly Elegy is written by J.D. Vance who graduated from Yale Law School had a deeply disturbed childhood growing up in the poor working class neighborhood. The most remarkable about him is that he is not only survived it, but also ending up graduate from Yale Law School becoming an attorney, despite the odds against him.
Vance used his own family as a case study in Hillbilly culture, and showed us the lives of white working class. His grandparents, Mamaw and Papaw’s difficult marriage which his mother never quite recovered from the trauma of her childhood. Vance’s mother grew increasingly addicted to drugs, her abusive and violent behavior to him as a young boy resulting in Mamaw stepping in as his primary caregiver. With her guidance and support, he was able to improve his performance in school. Later on he went to Marine Corps, Ohio State University and then he attended Yale Law School, where he met his wife, Usha, and entered a law degree and found a high paying job.
From the book, I learned the great country like America, still have tons of people struggle from poverty, experience social and economic crisis, but poverty is not only the issue for the social problems in the hillbilly community, family abuse, drug addiction, dysfunctional family, and irresponsibility are the main reason to cause the poor to live in a different world and society other than the rich.
There is a lack of agency – a feeling that you have little control over your life and a willingness to blame everyone but yourself. This is distinct from the larger economic landscape of modern America.
Also I wished his book published a few years earlier during my colleges time, so I would understand how important are networking and personal relationship contribute at career development and future destinies.
I came from China by myself for education in America, so it’s more strange and foreign world to me compared to J.D. Vance. Didn’t know anyone in the states, all families were far away back in China. Even with the helps thru my path, I still had far less resource and knowledge about American school system and culture than Americans. All I know during that time was to get a good grade and then found a good job thru online job searching, networking was totally strange word to me, didn’t even know how and where to network.
But I do feel lucky on my career development. After college, I found my first job working for bank of America, and it opened a door for me to work for finance institutions on Wall Street.
The poor white working class community is not only in Kentucky or Ohio regions from his book, when I was in upstate NY for school, I had seen and befriended with a lot of poor white working class people. Their situation is not better than Vance, a few kids I knew they grew up from foster home. One girl I knew she got pregnant and had a baby when she was 15.
I hope there is a solution to those issues! This is a very emotional book, if you would like to discuss this book, please leave your comment.
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