Regarding the April 3 Book World article "A murder mystery counters an overdose of Rust Belt punditry" [Style]:

My grandparents emigrated from the former Yugoslavia. I hail from the economic crater of Hazelwood, once a mill town just outside Pittsburgh. Today, the town has virtually disappeared. My college degree was earned as a result of my maternal grandmother’s support, both financial and moral. I take issue with reviewer Mark Athitakis, who characterizes J.D. Vance’s book, “Hillbilly Elegy,” as a story of a person from “the economic crater of the exurban Midwest and Appalachia” who, spurred with gumption and familial loving kindness, obtained a college degree and then foisted on the reader his socioeconomic theory.

Athitakis contrasted “Elegy” with the murder mystery “A Welcome Murder,” set in a similar place.

For me, the most compelling aspect of “Hillbilly Elegy” was the story of young Vance’s relationship with his maternal grandmother, Mamaw. She encouraged him in his studies and offered moral and physical refuge from his immediate family. Of all his family members and friends, Mamaw supported Vance with the most consistency. I can understand the utility of a scholarship for women older than 55 that was once available, called “Thank God for Grandmothers.” That relationship powered Vance — more than patriotism, more than learning to stick up for your brothers and sisters, and more than any other value he got from anywhere else — and I wish he had attributed more of his success to her.

Carol Morgan, Washington