Hillbilly Elegy by J. D. Vance details the author’s stormy journey up the “hillbilly highway” from the Kentucky’s coal-country to the declining Rust Belt to the Ivy League. Born into a poor Scots-Irish family—with a pill-addicted mother and “revolving door of father figures”—Vance was raised in Ohio by his beloved and newly middle-class grandparents. The story does more than celebrate his breakout. Vance tries to make sense of how a culture fell into ruin. In so doing, he covers ground previously explored by Joe Bageant’s Deer Hunting with Jesus (also at the Nichols Library).