In June, the Talks with Teachers Summer Book Club read Colson Whitehead’s, The Underground Railroad, and our thriving Facebook group had over 200 comments about the novel.
For July, we are reading J.D. Vance’s, Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis.
“Hillbilly Elegy,” in my mind, divides into two components: the family stories Mr. Vance tells — most of which are no doubt better experienced on the page than they were in real life — and the questions he raises. Chief among them: How much should he hold his hillbilly kin responsible for their own misfortunes?
In Mr. Vance’s estimation, the answer is: a lot. Economic insecurity, he’s convinced, accounts for only a small part of his community’s problems; the much larger issue is hillbilly culture itself. Though proud of it in many ways, he’s also convinced that it “increasingly encourages social decay instead of counteracting it.”
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