So after a Ramadanic hiatus from reading, I got back to and finished Hillbilly Elegy. Here are a few thoughts about it but would love to hear yours
- I thought the author was very courageous in sharing his struggles and giving an insider's view of a culture not often discussed in popular literature (or at least I don't think it is....but maybe I'm not the best measuring stick)
- I can understand why people who identify with/as hillbilly or working class white would have an issue with the book. The sense of "don't air your dirty laundry" comes through as he describes the culture. And even though he romanticizes certain parts of it, his description of the culture is sobering
- I didn't feel that there was much substance from a "what can be done about this" perspective but then again I don't think this was the author's intent.
My main take away though is that he eventually made it. Despite all what went wrong, still some things went right and he (a lucky son of a bitch as he himself puts it) made it. There is a sense of hopefulness. A sense that, you know, if we address some of these issues we can save a lot of kids in similar situations from the dim future they face currently.
I couldn't help but compare and contrast this book to that of Ta-Nehisi Coates however. Different yet very similar as I find both to speak of a dim future for children born in a certain set of circumstances.
What I find strikingly different though is that the set of negative conditions in JD's book are, to a major extent, self made and limited to the immediate actors within the child's life. Whereas in Coates' book, in addition to a similar set of circumstances a child may face, there is still this societally and systematically pervasive set of obstacles that will take more than one generation to overcome.
The major difference between the two stories as I see it is still that of, well, black and white.
What did you think?
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