*Finalist for the National Book Award*
*Finalist for the Kirkus Prize*
*Instant New York Times Bestseller*
*Named a Best Book of the Year by NPR, New York Post, BuzzFeed, Shelf Awareness, Bustle, and Publishers Weekly*
An essential read for our times: an eye-opening memoir of working-class poverty in America that will deepen our understanding of the ways in which class shapes our country and "a deeply humane memoir that crackles with clarifying insight".*
Sarah Smarsh was born a fifth generation Kansas wheat farmer on her paternal side, and the product of generations of teen mothers on her maternal side. Through her experiences growing up on a farm thirty miles west of Wichita, we are given a unique and essential look into the lives of poor and working class Americans living in the heartland.
During Sarah's turbulent childhood in Kansas in the 1980s and 1990s, she enjoyed the freedom of a country childhood, but observed the painful challenges of the poverty around her; untreated medical conditions for lack of insurance or consistent care, unsafe job conditions, abusive relationships, and limited resources and information that would provide for the upward mobility that is the American Dream. By telling the story of her life and the lives of the people she loves with clarity and precision but without judgement, Smarsh challenges us to look more closely at the class divide in our country.
Beautifully written, in a distinctive voice, Heartland combines personal narrative with powerful analysis and cultural commentary, challenging the myths about people thought to be less because they earn less.
"Heartland is one of a growing number of important works--including Matthew Desmond's Evicted and Amy Goldstein's Janesville--that together merit their own section in nonfiction aisles across the country: America's postindustrial decline...Smarsh shows how the false promise of the 'American dream' was used to subjugate the poor. It's a powerful mantra" *(The New York Times Book Review).
- ISBN-13: 9781501133107
- ISBN-10: 1501133101
- Publisher: Scribner Book Company
- Publish Date: September 2019
Book Clubs: September 2019
★The Golden State by Lydia Kiesling
Lydia Kiesling explores themes of immigration and family in her debut novel, The Golden State. Daphne, whose Turkish husband has been denied entry into the United States, is raising her infant daughter, Honey, alone in San Francisco. Cracking under the pressure of single parenthood and looking to escape her stress-filled life, she decamps with Honey for the California desert. Once there, Daphne drinks more than she should and meets her neighbors—Cindy, who’s a secessionist, and elderly Alice. But then her connections with the pair take a threatening turn. Told over the course of 10 days, this is an unflinching portrait of motherhood and its many challenges. Kiesling is a perceptive, compassionate writer, and she brings a remote part of California to vivid life in this accomplished debut.
Small Animals by Kim Brooks
When Brooks left her 4-year-old son in the car while running a quick errand, the police were alerted and she became embroiled in a protracted legal battle. Brooks recounts her experience in this fascinating mix of memoir and reportage on contemporary parenting.
Virgil Wander by Leif Enger
Suffering from memory loss after a car accident, Virgil tries to reconstruct his past in the tightknit community of Greenstone, Minnesota. Enger’s many fans will savor this bittersweet chronicle of Greenstone and the charming people who call it home.
Heartland by Sarah Smarsh
This powerful memoir recounts Smarsh’s upbringing on a Kansas farm, reflecting on the past and probing the economic and social causes of poverty in America.
Dear America by Jose Antonio Vargas
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Vargas, who is Filipino, learned of his undocumented status at the age of 16, when he tried to get a driver’s license. With a reporter’s instinct for detail, he writes about the challenges of surviving as an outsider in America.