Saturday, February 25, 2017

Hillbilly Elegy

From a former marine and Yale Law School graduate, a probing look at the struggles of America’s white working class through the author’s own story of growing up in a poor Rust Belt town 
Hillbilly Elegy is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis—that of poor, white Americans. The disintegration of this group, a process that has been slowly occurring now for over forty years, has been reported with growing frequency and alarm, but has never before been written about as searingly from the inside. In Hillbilly Elegy, J.D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hanging around your neck. 
The Vance family story began with hope in postwar America. J.D.’s grandparents were “dirt poor and in love” and moved north from Kentucky’s Appalachia region to Ohio in the hopes of escaping the dreadful poverty around them. They raised a middle-class family, and eventually one of their grandchildren would graduate from Yale Law School, a conventional marker of success in achieving generational upward mobility. But as the family saga of Hillbilly Elegy plays out, we learn that J.D.’s grandparents, aunt, uncle, sister, and, most of all, his mother struggled profoundly with the demands of their new middle-class life, never fully escaping the legacy of abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and trauma so characteristic of their part of America. With piercing honesty, Vance shows how he himself still carries around the demons of his chaotic family history. 
A deeply moving memoir, with its share of humor and vividly colorful figures, Hillbilly Elegy is the story of how upward mobility really feels. And it is an urgent and troubling meditation on the loss of the American dream for a large segment of this country.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Underground Railroad

From the Barnes and Noble Site:

The National Book Award Winner and #1 New York Times bestseller from Colson Whitehead, a magnificent tour de force chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South

The book caught my attention because it is a Oprah choice.  And the book held my attention as it moves along quite well.  Some of the scenes that the author paints are hard to read....but I am squeamish and found that I didn't have to actually put the book down because of the content even though much of it was TERRIBLE!

I read/listened to the book via audible.  Don't get caught up in the impossibleness of the underground train system in the time period being explored.  It is a means to an end in the story....and it really does work.  Of course, there were not actual underground railways in that time period.  But there were conductors and people who risked their lives to help runaway slaves.

I liked the information found at this link:


I lifted a review from the Audible site that sums the book up a bit and keeps me from having to take the time to write what has already been written:

There is an epidemic of narcotic abuse in this country. Dreamland tells the story of how this epidemic emerged. It follows an arc that begins with an enterprising region in Mexico that can produce heroin to the small towns across America that discovered a cheaper alternative to the prescribed narcotics like OxyContin. Narcotic abuse is rampant and prescribing habits may be contributing. Apart from the facts, this is a gripping the story.

The book is a bit long and repeats much of the material ....I found myself considering stopping in the middle and almost called a buddy to see if there was new "stuff" later on....but then I was caught up in the story again and was glad that I finished.  I would say that if Sam Quinones did as much excellent research in all of the places that he visited as he did in Portsmouth and Huntington, his research is beyond awesome.  When he talked about people and places that I know first hand, his information is right on!  I recommend this book to anyone who wants to better understand addiction and the current epidemic of overdoses.  I read/listened to it via audible.