The BEST 5th Episode Ever : "Hillbilly Elegy" by J. D. Vance
I suppose that it would be me (Mandy) to pick a book with a hillbilly theme - you know, since I am such a southerner (NOT!). I have grown up in the south, but my entire family hails from the northern midwest where I spent many a glorious summer day! Yes - I drink unsweetened tea, cheer for the Michigan Wolverines, and refrain from the strong southern drawl (although, I have to admit, it sneaks up on me sometimes). Despite my midwestern tendencies, I know first-hand that so much of the "hillbilly" stigma placed on the entire South is absolutely not true....which is likely the reason that this book appealed to me. Here's a shout-out to J.D. Vance for clearing some of that up for us.
In our fifth BEST episode ever, we discuss #1 New York Times best-seller Hillbilly Elegy by J. D. Vance. Released in 2016 (hint: election year), the book is Vance's memoir of growing up in the coal-mining regions of the Appalachian Mountains in Kentucky, coined 'hillbilly country.', and rust-belt Ohio. If you have not read the book yet, ask yourself this question first: what is a hillbilly? You'll find it interesting to know if your answer lines up with Vance's first-hand account of being born and raised in hillbilly country.
In our discussion we spend some time talking about how/why Vance is not a (stereotypical) product of his ecological upbringing. We also talk about the pride of the hillbilly culture, some of the controversy surrounding the book, and we even dabble a little bit into political effects that the book might have had (hint again: it was released in a presidential election year....) - don't worry, we kept our political views to a pretty tame level. To bring it home, we challenge you, our listeners, to consider ways that you have ever stepped outside of the way you were raised and how that affected your perceptions of reality.
On that note, we would love to know if you have ever gone outside of your comfort zone. What did it mean to you? Did it change you? Leave us a comment below!
Happy reading and happy listening!