Teacher Guide

Hillbilly Elegy Lesson Plan

Introduction to Hillbilly Elegy

Released in 2016, J.D. Vance's Hillbilly Elegy was a near-instant success, receiving widespread acclaim for its sobering depiction of white, working-class Americans experiencing a collective identity crisis. It remains a controversial book, with some critics singing its praises as a sympathetic guide to how Donald Trump was elected president, and others skewering it as a judgmental generalization of the poor working class ("Review: 'Hillbilly Elegy'"; "J.D. Vance, the False Prophet").

Vance's story is a sobering account of his life as a poor kid in a working-class Ohio family that had roots in the hollers of Appalachia. At the center of this narrative are Vance's relationship with his...

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