Hillbilly Elegy is a terrible fucking book. It's A Million Little Pieces for the investment class. White Trash, on the other hand, is the book Hillbilly Elegy should have been.
It should be told, or at least interpreted, as a straightforward ascension story, rags to riches, where progressive values support people achieving their dreams. I don't remember him suggesting that there was significant pushback from the liberal elite beyond a few awkward situations like the networking dinner (and when would that not be awkward). He was welcomed, assisted financially, promoted, adopted as a full blood member, his upbringing was not a concern for anyone else. I'm trying to recall if he encountered any significant bigotry along the way but nothing springs to mind.
Not to draw parallels where none exist, but surely everyone experiences SOME distinction between their childhood experiences and their adult life. Not everyone (including the author it seems) had the Human Torch for a grandmother, but to some degree these two phases of our lives are very different. Again the message SHOULD be that (if taken at face value) he grew up in a violent area, with no objectively good role models, with no obvious route to success; yet he emerged from it to a much better place and isn't that positive and inspiring. I did it and so can you (hill)Billy.
But that's not the story the author tells, and because he doesn't tell it "straight", it all smells like a grift. To what end I don't know, it obviously made a ton of money. The article hints at a political run also.