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Book Club
"Hillbilly Elegy" by J.D. Vance
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Contact
Cynthia White
530/458-7671

Morse Conference Room
Main Branch
Colusa, CA  95932



Meeting Date: September 20, 2018


From a former marine and Yale Law School graduate, a powerful account of growing up in a poor Rust Belt town that offers a broader, probing look at the struggles of America’s white working class

Hillbilly Elegy is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis—that of white working-class Americans. The decline of this group, a demographic of our country that has been slowly disintegrating over forty years, has been reported on with growing frequency and alarm, but has never before been written about as searingly from the inside. J. D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hung around your neck.

The Vance family story begins hopefully in postwar America. J. D.’s grandparents were “dirt poor and in love,” and moved north from Kentucky’s Appalachia region to Ohio in the hopes of escaping the dreadful poverty around them. They raised a middle-class family, and eventually their grandchild (the author) would graduate from Yale Law School, a conventional marker of their success in achieving generational upward mobility.

But as the family saga of Hillbilly Elegy plays out, we learn that this is only the short, superficial version. Vance’s grandparents, aunt, uncle, sister, and, most of all, his mother, struggled profoundly with the demands of their new middle-class life, and were never able to fully escape the legacy of abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and trauma so characteristic of their part of America. Vance piercingly shows how he himself still carries around the demons of their chaotic family history.

A deeply moving memoir with its share of humor and vividly colorful figures, Hillbilly Elegy is the story of how upward mobility really feels. And it is an urgent and troubling meditation on the loss of the American dream for a large segment of this country.


Upcoming Selections & Meeting Dates
November 13:  Immortal Irishman by Tim Egan
January 10:  There There by Tommy Orange
February 28:  All They Will Call You by Tim Hernandez
April 11:  Virginia Yerxa Community Read
May 9:  The Alice Network by Kate Quinn


Past Selections
May 2018: The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
April 2018: The Book of Joy by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu
March 2018: The Sport of Kings by C.E. Morgan
January 2018: Barkskins
 by Annie Proulx
December 2017: 
The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende
October 2017:  Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo
September 2017:  Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman
May 2017: The Green Road by Anne Enright
March/April 2017: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
February 2017: Wintering by Peter Geye
January 2017: 11-22-63 by Stephen King