Reading for Insight and Action

Hillbilly ElegyBy Faith Schullstrom


Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and a Culture in Crisis by J.D.Vance

This highly regarded memoir of growing up in the Appalachian regions of Kentucky and Ohio, examines the roles of class, neighborhood, family, mentorship and opportunity in this section of America. J.D.Vance tells his “coming of age” story in the context of the culture that shaped him yet required him to escape, haunts him yet fills his heart with love and respect.  He reveals lessons and aspirations born in abuse, poverty, alcoholism and chaos, reflecting on policies that seldom meet the needs of the people they intend to assist. It is Vance’s story and the story of “his people”—white, working class residents of the Rust Belt who have lost belief in the American Dream.

For additional insight into the impact of family, culture, neighborhood, mentorship and opportunity, I highly recommend The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark for the Ivy League by Jeff Hobbs and The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore.