Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance
Hi, I am Sarah. I am sixteen years old and an avid reader; it is one of my favorite things to do. Inspired by all the amazing stories built by simple letters, I aspire to be an author and, meanwhile, nurture the love to write.
There are two stories you could tell about J.D. Vance. 1. He is a Yale Law school graduate, served in the Marine Corps, and is currently a U.S. Senator living in Cincinnati with a wife and two children. Or, you could say 2. He grew up in Middletown, Ohio, smack dab in the middle of the poor “Rust Belt” stretching through Appalachia. Growing up, he lived alternatively with his drug-addicted mother and his grandparents, and most of his childhood was spent living with financial insecurity.
These two stories are both true, but on some level they seem to exist in different worlds. Considering the circumstances of his childhood, the fact that Vance is where he is now is quite extraordinary. And because of the disintegrating state of the demographic he belonged to, the white working class, achieving something relatively ordinary (going to college at all) is so very out of reach for so many kids like him, and even when he thinks he has left the traumas of his childhood behind, they cling to him still.
Hillbilly Elegy is a fascinating exploration of a societal problem we do not often think about. It provides powerful insights into concepts like social capital, childhood trauma, and the importance of strong relationships. Most of all, it inspires empathy and (at least for me) a desire to truly understand all people, from all backgrounds and walks of life.