The 32-year-old Vance, who grew up here — graduating from Middletown High School across North Breiel Boulevard from the campus — said the idea for his book came from questioning his ascendancy from low-income, Appalachian roots to Yale Law School.
“Why did I feel so out of place? Why are people here (Yale) so unlike me?” Vance said.
Previous sociological and political books on America’s largely white, lower income class tended to examine the population, its culture and its struggles through the conventional prisms of either liberal or conservative ideology. But Vance said he wanted to write a book that included both perspectives but most importantly, his own experiences.
VIDEO: Vance talks about a divided America
“People are much more complex,” he said of the limitations that come with ideologically themed books. “I decided to make these problems real by writing about real people,” including the struggles within his family and his personal challenges growing up.
“I was hoping somebody would pick up the book and think to themselves ‘wow, this is a complicated problem and these are complicated people — and most of all these are good people,’” said Vance.
J.D. Vance, author of the best-selling book “Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis” and a Middletown native, speaks to the crowd during the 2017 Alex & Lena Casper Memorial Lecture on March 9 at Dave Finkelman Auditorium at Miami University Middletown.
The unusual formula worked as the book shot to the top of best-selling lists, putting the Middletown native, Ohio State University graduate and former U.S. Marine on numerous TV appearances including Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, and CNBC.
Vance recently moved back to Ohio from California to launch a non-profit organization.
MORE: Vance’s non-profit to tackle problems addressed in ‘Hillbilly Elegy’
Vance will also be one of two featured speakers Saturday at the Butler County GOP’s annual Lincoln Day Dinner, which also includes Congressman Warren Davidson, R-Troy.
MORE: Vance tapped to speak at Middletown graduation
Download the free Journal-News app, Butler County’s #1 source for local news