My favorite quarterback picked J.D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy as his “veteran” book for April. It’s a memoir about growing up poor and managing to get out, but it’s also a book about a subculture and its relation to the wider culture.
The story satisfies because who doesn’t like a story about someone who works hard and beats the odds? And it doesn’t satisfy me, at least, because it doesn’t hold out much hope that we can change the system that created the odds. Some of that comes from Vance’s deep conviction that personal responsibility and saving love are the secrets to his success; one does not create social programs around those. Some of it comes directly from the fact that it is a very individual story.
It’s a good, thought-provoking book. There are parts that made me want to laugh and parts that made me want to cry. All of it was worth reading.