Merriam-Webster defines an elegy as " a song or poem expressing sorrow or lamentation especially for one who is dead." As a college-educated, middle-class white woman I had no idea what that word meant, I had to look it up. I thought it was interesting that the author, J.D. Vance, chose to use a word most hillbillies would have no understanding of as part of his title. But maybe this book isn't intended for a hillbilly, but for those of us that are not and do not understand the first thing about this culture?
As a recent transplant to Kentucky via residence in northern Minnesota for 18 years (originally from California) I was curious to get a non-stereotypical picture of the hillbilly culture from a native. I got so much more!
I would highly recommend this book for anyone - whether you live in Kentucky or not. The personal perspective, cognitive and emotional insight, as well as the sociocultural awareness gained in this book is incredible. I believe anyone familiar with ACEs - especially those with high ACEs - will feel right at home.
Vance doesn't mention adverse childhood experiences until page 226, but he doesn't have to. We see and feel ACEs on every page. Once he gets to the term he does a fantastic job of explaining ACEs in a way anyone can understand.
There is a bit of language that may offend some, but to be honest, even with my sensitivity, I was not offended. The language adds authenticity to the story and provides insight to the real-life characters, especially Mamaw.
The best part of this particular "lamentation" is that there's a happy ending. An ending full of hope and possibility for everyone - whether your ACE is 0 or 10.