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Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance


The novel, "Hillbilly Elegy" by J.D. Vance, was totally enlightening as to why people make decisions not in their best interest. We make choices every day that impact our lives. The author speaks of “Learned Helplessness” that affects the Appalachian community disproportionately. This is the belief that our choices have no bearing on the outcome of our life.

Some believe that the seeds of “Learned Helplessness” could have been sowed by the Right that has spewed pessimism to the American public for over 40 years. For the past 10 years the rhetoric has been carefully directed at states such as Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and Pennsylvania, states hardest hit by loss of manufacturing jobs. They failed to tell people in these states that jobs were being lost because companies were closing and jobs were being sent overseas, some jobs were being performed by machines, coal mining jobs were diminishing due to cleaner sources of energy, and that people needed to be retrained. Instead, they were told that they did not have jobs because of the civil rights movement, Democratic policies, big government, Blacks on welfare (although, the people they saw on welfare look just like them). In reality these states were experiencing social decay due to choices the people of these states have made regarding premature parenthood, drugs, violence, incarceration, inflexibility, and the belief they are eternal losers. The Exoteric Book Club rated "Hillbilly Elegy" 3.1 on a 5 point rating scale.

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