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From a recent graduate of the Marine and Yale Law School, a strong portrait of bringing up in a bad Rust Belt town that provides a wider, sophisticated glance at the difficulties of the black working class in America.

Hillbilly Elegy is a enthusiastic and private assessment of a crises culture-that of black American working class. This group’s decline, a demographic of our country that has been slowly disintegrating over 40 years, has been reported with increasing frequency and alarm, but has never before been described as searing from within. J. D. Vance tells the true story of what it feels like when you were born with a social, regional, and class decline hung around your neck.

Hopefully, the story of the Vance family starts in post-war America. J. D.’s relatives were “mud bad and in lust” and went south from the Appalachia region of Kentucky to Ohio, hoping to escape the terrible poverty around them. They reared a middle-class household and eventually graduated from Yale Law School, a standard indicator of their achievement in attaining generational upward mobility, their grandchild (the author).

But as Hillbilly Elegy’s family saga plays out, we learn that this is just the short, shallow version. The relatives of Vance, his grandma, his uncle, his sibling, and most of all his mom fought deeply with the requirements of their fresh middle-class lives and could never fully flee the heritage of violence, alcoholism, poverty, and trauma so representative of their portion of America. Vance shows piercingly how he still carries around his chaotic family history’s demons himself.

Hillbilly Elegy is the story of how upward mobility really feels, a deeply moving memoir with its share of humor and vividly colorful figures. And for a big section of this nation, it’s an immediate and troubling meditation on the failure of the American dream.