Evicted meets Nickel and Dimed in Stephanie Land's memoir about working as a maid, a beautiful and gritty exploration of poverty in America. Includes a foreword by Barbara Ehrenreich. Read more...
Evicted meets Nickel and Dimed in Stephanie Land's memoir about working as a maid, a beautiful and gritty exploration of poverty in America. Includes a foreword by Barbara Ehrenreich.
At 28, Stephanie Land's plans of breaking free from the roots of her hometown in the Pacific Northwest to chase her dreams of attending a university and becoming a writer, were cut short when a summer fling turned into an unexpected pregnancy. She turned to housekeeping to make ends meet, and with a tenacious grip on her dream to provide her daughter the very best life possible, Stephanie worked days and took classes online to earn a college degree, and began to write relentlessly. She wrote the true stories that weren't being told: the stories of overworked and underpaid Americans. Of living on food stamps and WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) coupons to eat. Of the government programs that provided her housing, but that doubled as halfway houses. The aloof government employees who called her lucky for receiving assistance while she didn't feel lucky at all. She wrote to remember the fight, to eventually cut through the deep-rooted stigmas of the working poor. Maid explores the underbelly of upper-middle class America and the reality of what it's like to be in service to them. "I'd become a nameless ghost," Stephanie writes about her relationship with her clients, many of whom do not know her from any other cleaner, but who she learns plenty about. As she begins to discover more about her clients' lives-their sadness and love, too-she begins to find hope in her own path. Her compassionate, unflinching writing as a journalist gives voice to the "servant" worker, and those pursuing the American Dream from below the poverty line. Maid is Stephanie's story, but it's not her alone. It is an inspiring testament to the strength, determination, and ultimate triumph of the human spirit.
- ISBN-13: 9780316505116
- ISBN-10: 0316505110
- Publisher: Hachette Books
- Publish Date: January 2019
- Page Count: 288
- Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.05 pounds
“My daughter learned to walk in a homeless shelter,” writes Stephanie Land in the opening line of her insightful, moving memoir, Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive. Land was planning on attending college and becoming a writer when she became pregnant with her daughter, Mia. After her short relationship with the baby’s father became abusive, Land found herself a single mother with virtually no support network. She depended on food stamps, childcare assistance, part-time work as a housecleaner and occasional charity from friends. When she took her first housecleaning job, she quickly realized, “They don’t pay me enough for this.”
Nonetheless, she persevered, despite the fact that black mold in her studio apartment repeatedly sickened both Mia and herself. “Poverty was like a stagnant pond of mud that pulled at our feet and refused to let go.” Land learns to appreciate what little she has while observing the lives within the homes she cleans, giving them nicknames like the Loving House, the Cat Lady’s House and the Porn House. She realizes that despite her clients’ relative wealth, “they did not seem to enjoy life any more than I did.”
Like Tara Westover in Educated, Land sees education as her salvation. Determined to break free from sickness, poverty and bad luck, she uses a combination of grants, loans and jump-off-the-cliff risk to ultimately pursue her dream of studying creative writing at the University of Montana.
While books like Matthew Desmond’s Evicted, Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed and Alissa Quart’s Squeezed present heart-wrenching overviews of poverty in America, Land combines her raw, authentic voice and superb storytelling skills to create a firsthand account from the trenches. Readers will be left wanting to hear more from this talented new voice, and no doubt, she’s got more stories to tell.