Book Club Hillbilly Elegy

Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance: Yep. A non-fiction. A memoir. And for me…a test of my love for my book club. I am actually not unhappy when someone picks a book I’m pretty sure I would never have read. This pushes my limits. A good thing.

But this one wasn’t available for me in my usual avenues. Eighty-six on the library hold list, not out in paperback so no used copies, and expensive e-book. Happily Gloria is a fast reader, so I borrowed her copy.

I was out of town for the book club meeting, which is why you are getting this a month late! This was the February book. Thankfully, one member provided me with a summary.

The group fairly uniformly did not think the book was a great piece of writing.  It was full of contradictions and seemed to be a litany seen very often in the “I did not have a rosy childhood” genre of memoir.
Having said that, we spent a long time talking about this book-a good stimulus for discussion about our own childhoods, cultural and class differences in the US as well as whether the book offered any insight to help us understand what is happening in the US at this moment.
So while it got low ratings, it had high value as a thought provoker.
And then there is my take on it: Non-fiction, not my cup of tea. And it came just as I had to read two other non fictions books, which made it pretty impossible for me to engage.
I think the reason I don’t like memoir is the entire book is telling. I did this, then I did that and she did this because of that. This is so contrary to what I have learned about writing fiction. (Although I have read at least two memoirs in which the author did write an exciting, engaging story, without telling me at all.
I have to say that in general I skimmed this whole book and never was engaged. The whole thing felt like someone who said “I know what to write so that I can make some money and get publicity” rather than a true tale.