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Author Grateful for Mentors During 'Crazy Years'

In Hillbilly Elegy, the best-selling memoir of growing up amidst poverty and family breakdown in Appalachia, J.D. Vance expresses gratitude for all the mentors in his life. He especially mentions his grandparents, Mamaw and Papaw, his older sister Lindsey, and others. Vance writes:

At every level of my life and every environment, I have found family and mentors and lifelong friends who supported and enabled me. But I often wonder: where would I be without them? I think back on my freshman year of high school, a grade I nearly failed, and the morning when my mom walked in to Mamaw's house demanding a cup of clean urine [to enable her to pass a drug test]. Or years before that when I was a lonely kid [without a dad involved in my life] and Papaw decided that he would be the best that he could be for as long as he lived. Or the months I spent with [my older sister] Lindsay, a teenage girl acting as a mother while our own mother lived in a treatment center. Or the moment I can't even remember when Papaw installed a secret phone line in the bottom of my toy box so that Lindsay could call Mamaw or Papaw if things got a little too crazy. Thinking about it now, about how close I was to the abyss, gives me chills.

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