In his 2016 memoir, "Hillbilly Elegy," J.D. Vance describes growing up poor in Middletown.
Abandoned by his father, neglected by his mother, Vance was raised by his rural-Kentucky-born grandparents. That he eventually developed the courage and confidence to attend college and law school, he attributes almost entirely to his tough-as-nails "Mamaw."
Among the family stories of instability and dysfunction, Vance examines "hillbilly" culture and the mindset of poor whites, all while posing big questions: "How much of our lives, good and bad, should we credit to our personal decisions, and how much is just the inheritance of our culture, our families, and our parents who have failed their children? ... Where does blame stop and sympathy begin?"
The book is rich with topics for discussion, and you'll have two opportunities to do so this summer at the library.
"Hillbilly Elegy" is the selected title for both the Speaking Volumes and Thursday Mornings book-discussion groups; the former will be on June 6 and the latter on Aug. 23.
Speaking Volumes meets at 7:30 p.m. the first Wednesday of each month at Old Worthington Library, 820 High St. At the group's July 11 meeting, Paulette Jiles' "News of the World" will be considered. Sam Kean's "The Violinist's Thumb" rounds out the summer schedule Aug. 1.
Also held at Old Worthington Library are the last-Thursday-of-the-month meetings of the Thursday Mornings book group; all start at 10:30 a.m. This summer, in addition to Aug. 23, participants will gather June 28 and July 26 to talk about "Into Thin Air" by Jon Krakauer and "Homegoing" by Yaa Gyasi, respectively.
The Northwest Passages book-discussion group meets at 10:30 a.m. the third Wednesday of each month at Northwest Library, 2280 Hard Road.
Book selections for the rest of the season include "Option B" by Sheryl Sandberg on June 20, "Bird by Bird and Imperfect Birds" by Anne Lamott on July 18 and "Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?" by Frans de Waal on Aug. 15.
Hillary Kline is a communications specialist for Worthington Libraries.