Wish You Were Here: Love & Longing in an American Heartland

Truman State University Press
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Wish You Were Here offers a clear-eyed yet tender look at life in the modern Midwest from the perspective of a seventh-generation ruralite. Championing the romance of wide-open spaces in a rapidly urbanizing world, Zachary Michael Jack challenges the stereotypes of rural and small-town midwestern life in a well-grounded and deeply felt counter-narrative of love and longing sustained in communities where young and old alike plant roots. In essays whose settings encompass the diversity of the Heartland—from wooded hills to verdant croplands, from tightly knit small towns to booming suburbs—Jack considers how growing up country helped shape his life and the lives of his ancestors, inviting readers to reflect on the wellspring of connections between place and personality, demographics and destiny, at work in their own lives. p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px Cambria}
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About the author

Zachary Michael Jack is an award-winning author and editor of many books on rural life. Twice nominated for the Theodore Saloutos Award for the year’s best book in agricultural history and a national runner-up in his class for Foreword Reviews Book of the Year, Jack teaches courses in writing, rural, and place studies at North Central College and is on the board of the Midwestern History Association. The author was raised on a heritage farm on land that has been in continuous family ownership since before the Civil War. His ongoing legacy on the land includes living in and operating farm homes in Iowa and Missouri, states his ancestors helped pioneer. Jack is the seventh generation in his family to make his home in the rural Midwest. 

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Additional Information

Publisher
Truman State University Press
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Published on
Dec 28, 2016
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Pages
272
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ISBN
9781612481715
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Social Science / Sociology / Rural
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Read Aloud
Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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J. D. Vance
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

"A riveting book."—The Wall Street Journal

"Essential reading."—David Brooks, New York Times

From a former marine and Yale Law School graduate, a powerful account of growing up in a poor Rust Belt town that offers a broader, probing look at the struggles of America’s white working class

Hillbilly Elegy is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis—that of white working-class Americans. The decline of this group, a demographic of our country that has been slowly disintegrating over forty years, has been reported on with growing frequency and alarm, but has never before been written about as searingly from the inside. J. D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hung around your neck.

The Vance family story begins hopefully 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 their grandchild (the author) would graduate from Yale Law School, a conventional marker of their success in achieving generational upward mobility.

But as the family saga of Hillbilly Elegy plays out, we learn that this is only the short, superficial version. Vance’s grandparents, aunt, uncle, sister, and, most of all, his mother, struggled profoundly with the demands of their new middle-class life, and were never able to fully escape the legacy of abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and trauma so characteristic of their part of America. Vance piercingly shows how he himself still carries around the demons of their 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.

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