Memphis Reads – HILLBILLY ELEGY by J.D. Vance

Andrea K. reviews Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance (HarperCollins, 2016)

I am going to admit I was very skeptical to read this because so many customers had asked about it or asked me to read it. I thought surely it could not be that good. I mean, several times when a book is so good and named a bestseller, I have not liked the actual book.

Anyway, I am glad to be mistaken about Hillbilly Elegy, the bestseller by Appalachian native, J.D. Vance. The author claims this book is not recounting his own triumphs and accomplishments but it is about the trials, tribulations, and victories of his mother’s parents, Mamaw and Papaw.

Like the author, I was blessed to have a wonderful relationship with my own maternal grandparents whom I also called Mamaw and Papaw. They also came from a poor, humble background but always wanted for their descendents to push hard and strive for upward mobility.

This memoir is well-written in the fact Vance relays stories about his childhood (some heartwarming stories, some heartbreaking tales) but also peppers the book with grim, cruel truths about Appalachia.

This book will either break your heart or else it will warm your soul. Whichever happens does not matter because most likely you will not forget the Vance family.