Book 7: Hillbilly Elegy

One of my goals for 2020 is to read more. What better way than to commit to reading one book a week? 52 books in 52 weeks and I’ll be sharing every single one on the blog, every Sunday. Check in for my latest reads and recommendations.

Ryan has this annoying quality of always being right and I have not learned yet that I need to take him at his word. On his recommendation, I finally picked up “Hillbilly Elegy” and I am so glad that I did. I was floored at how much of J.D. Vance’s story resonated with me. We grew up in two different worlds yet I witness the culture in crisis he references in his pages every day.

I think one of the biggest reasons I connected to this book is because I teach in an urban district, however, I truly believe this story will enthrall anyone who picks it up. The host of characters that made up Vance’s childhood are humorous, lively, terrifying, heartbreaking, and real. You root for him and his family the entire time you are reading. This book is a novel that really makes you want to figure out how to change the whole darn world so no one ever suffers again. However, that’s not the point of Vance’s story. In the end, it’s about having power over your own life.

Another main theme throughout this text is the influence your family has and the destruction caused when a child is raised in a difficult situation. I feel like I’m always stepping up onto my soap box, screaming that kids really just need two things: love and a stable home. It’s Maslow’s heirachy of needs at its basis.

Whether you’re familiar with Appalachia or have no idea of any of the realities of middle America, read this book. No matter where you live in the United States, it will make you better. It will give you a new perspective. While we’re at it, it’s also a darn good read. J.D. Vance’s voice comes across so vividly in his text, you’ll feel like you’re having a conversation with him yourself. He’ll make you feel things you didn’t know you needed to feel.

Wirth Rating: 10/10

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