Hillbilly Elegy
by J.D. Vance (read by J.D. Vance)
Harper Audio (audiobook)

If you are still asking why so many Americans voted for Donald Trump, check out Hillbilly Elegy. J.D. Vance’s tale of life in coal-rich Appalachia uses hope­lessness as the backdrop for a bleak, big picture of white discontent. Poverty is a family tradi­tion, writes Kentucky-born Vance, who, as a child, moved north to Ohio, where he grew up under the care of hillbilly grand­parents. His “Papaw” (grandad) had worked for the once-mighty Armco Steel, about which Vance says, “It never occurred to me that [it] wouldn’t be around forever.” His mother, a nurse, was a serial divorcee and, like many other hillbilly transplants, spent her money on drugs. This unsettling memoir, narrated also by the author, underscores working-class whites’ disdain for modern American meri­tocracy.