Book review: Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive — by Stephanie Land

(Hachette Books)
Through the lens of her job as a maid, Stephanie Land, in spare and unsentimental yet evocative language, depicts the crushing hopelessness of poverty and the broken system of government assistance as she worked and fought her way, as a single mother recovering from an abusive relationship, from a homeless shelter to a new home, and life, for herself and her young daughter. While working as a maid, she discovers that while her clients have the material things she yearns for, they did not seem to enjoy life any more than she did, and that her “invisible” labor only made their lives appear polished and perfect. She describes feelings of shame, as she is overwhelmed by how much work it took to prove she was poor. This is an important book to read, notably, right now, as due to the partial government shutdown, the Department of Housing and Urban Development has stopped subsidies for low-income renters and the Department of Agriculture’s funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which provides food stamps and other aid to almost 40 million poor and working-class Americans, will run out by March 1. We should value her knowledge and expertise even if she is struggling with poverty — and because she is struggling with poverty.
— Reviewed by Jenny Lyons of The Vermont Book Shop in Middlebury
7 more books on poverty
Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth, by Sarah Smarsh
Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America, by Barbara Ehrenreich
“We Are All Fast-Food Workers Now:” The Global Uprising Against Poverty Wages, by Annelise Orleck
Educated, by Tara Westover
Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, by Matthew Desmond
The Broken Ladder: How Inequality Affects the Way We Think, Live, and Die, by Keith Payne
Janesville: An American Story, by Amy Goldstein

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