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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. "My daughter learned to walk in a homeless shelter." While the gap between upper middle-class Americans and the working poor widens, grueling low-wage domestic and service work--primarily done 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. "My daughter learned to walk in a homeless shelter." While the gap between upper middle-class Americans and the working poor widens, grueling low-wage domestic and service work--primarily done by women--fuels the economic success of the wealthy. Stephanie Land worked for years as a maid, pulling long hours while struggling as a single mom to keep a roof over her daughter's head. In Maid, she reveals the dark truth of what it takes to survive and thrive in today's inequitable society. While she worked hard to scratch her way out of poverty as a single parent, scrubbing the toilets of the wealthy, navigating domestic labor jobs, higher education, assisted housing, and a tangled web of government assistance, Stephanie wrote. She wrote the true stories that weren't being told. The stories of overworked and underpaid Americans. Written in honest, heart-rending prose and with great insight, 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. With this book, she gives voice to the "servant" worker, those who fight daily to scramble and scrape by for their own lives and the lives of their children.


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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. "My daughter learned to walk in a homeless shelter." While the gap between upper middle-class Americans and the working poor widens, grueling low-wage domestic and service work--primarily done 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. "My daughter learned to walk in a homeless shelter." While the gap between upper middle-class Americans and the working poor widens, grueling low-wage domestic and service work--primarily done by women--fuels the economic success of the wealthy. Stephanie Land worked for years as a maid, pulling long hours while struggling as a single mom to keep a roof over her daughter's head. In Maid, she reveals the dark truth of what it takes to survive and thrive in today's inequitable society. While she worked hard to scratch her way out of poverty as a single parent, scrubbing the toilets of the wealthy, navigating domestic labor jobs, higher education, assisted housing, and a tangled web of government assistance, Stephanie wrote. She wrote the true stories that weren't being told. The stories of overworked and underpaid Americans. Written in honest, heart-rending prose and with great insight, 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. With this book, she gives voice to the "servant" worker, those who fight daily to scramble and scrape by for their own lives and the lives of their children.

30 review for Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive

  1. 5 out of 5

    Roxane

    This book is going to garner a range of reactions when it’s published. What this book does well is illuminate the struggles of poverty and single-motherhood, the unrelenting frustration of having no safety net, the ways in which our society is systemically designed to keep impoverished people mired in poverty, the indignity of poverty by way of unmovable bureaucracy, and people’s lousy attitudes toward poor people. When she writes about her circumstances, Land’s prose is vivid and engaging. Her This book is going to garner a range of reactions when it’s published. What this book does well is illuminate the struggles of poverty and single-motherhood, the unrelenting frustration of having no safety net, the ways in which our society is systemically designed to keep impoverished people mired in poverty, the indignity of poverty by way of unmovable bureaucracy, and people’s lousy attitudes toward poor people. When she writes about her circumstances, Land’s prose is vivid and engaging. Her hopelessness, during this time in her life is palpable. But it is strange that the publicity materials compare this book to a book like Evicted. This is a tightly-focused, well-written memoir, a good book, but it is not a deeply researched book about poverty. This is a book about temporary poverty and it is part of a canon where the goal is to reach the middle-class. There’s nothing wrong with that. Where I struggled with this book, was the lack of acknowledgment of white privilege and how that made the arc of her narrative possible, save for a cursory moment where the author acknowledges the challenges immigrants might face that she did not. I also wish the scope of this book was wider. I wasn’t sure of the chronology of a lot of the book, and I would have loved to get a stronger sense of her relationships with other people. I suspect the writer was maintaining personal boundaries in what I perceived as absences but still, I did want to see more human connection, either good or bad. Fortunately, a book does not need to be everything to everyone. Whatever this book’s shortcomings are, it is still an incredibly worthwhile read.

  2. 5 out of 5

    C.J. Maughan

    Hooooooooo boy was this one frustrating. I almost gave up multiple times because it made me so angry, but let's just start at the beginning. I got this from Book of the Month. On their description it wasn't exactly clear that this was a nonfiction read (they may have changed it since). So I had VERY different expectations upon opening this book up and was very disappointed to see that it was not fiction. But, hey, I'm cool, I like nonfiction and so I set that all aside and figured it would still Hooooooooo boy was this one frustrating. I almost gave up multiple times because it made me so angry, but let's just start at the beginning. I got this from Book of the Month. On their description it wasn't exactly clear that this was a nonfiction read (they may have changed it since). So I had VERY different expectations upon opening this book up and was very disappointed to see that it was not fiction. But, hey, I'm cool, I like nonfiction and so I set that all aside and figured it would still be a good read. No. No, it was not. The author spends very little time actually talking about her time as a maid. And when I say that I mean that she TALKS about cleaning, sure, and she talks about the houses she goes to and she will briefly mention the people she cleans up after (and how many times she lays down and cries in their tub). But as far as a deep, tell-all introspective look at her clients life that reflects the differences in her her own life (which is how this book was presented as on Book of the Month) is so far off base that it's almost hilarious. Let me sum up the book for you. It is a mishmash wheelhouse of the following words: mold, crying, black mold, sinus infection, slimy mold, wet eyes, tears, sobbing, infectious mold, unstoppable crying and Black Mold (with capital letters). And to top it off, the author repeatedly tells the same story multiple times, but often in different orders. I.E. she talks about how she pulled her back moving a couch and couldn't move out of her boyfriends house. Then later she talks about how she pulled her back moving the same couch and couldn't do whatever it was. Maybe she pulled it twice? Maybe it was different times? I don't know. It just seems odd. I hate to rag on someones unfortunate life experiences, but I have to say that author made me feel zero sympathy for her. I wasn't rooting for her to succeed as she very much seemed to continually put herself in terrible situations. There's the obvious examples, looking for awful men she shacks up with and tries to get to solve her situation, family drama etc, but the one that got to me was this: she receives $4,000 back from taxes. Woohoo! She's continually been told from multiple doctors and specialists that she needs to find a better apartment as her daughter suffers from recurring sinus infections because of BLACK MOLD. But what does the author do with her extra fortune? Does she put first and last's rent on a new place? Does she possibly go and talk to the landlord and say he's violating rules and she will move out now that she could afford to? No. She puts some towards bills, the car, etc and then she buys herself a diamond wedding ring because she always wanted it and she's realized she has to commit to herself as there ain't no man who can pull her out of this situation. Wut. Far be it from me to tell someone how to spend their money. Not my business, but you don't get to write a whole book about how awful, terrible and stinky your life is if at the first sign of the tides turning you buy unnecessary junk. If I had to pinpoint exactly what I hated about this book and the thing that really rubbed me the wrong way it is how the author makes sure to take every opportunity to tell EVERYONE around her how bad her life is as if wanting them to fix it while not doing a whole lot herself. "I can't afford a new apartment!" "Have you looked, Stephanie?" "Well, no, but life is so HARD! And there's MOLD!" Plenty of people offer to help her out along the way but somehow she believes she is better than them or whatever it is they are offering and won't accept it unless it's on her terms. She won't go to food banks because she thinks there are people worse off than her who should use it. She won't use food stamps or take clothes from the church because she's embarrassed of what people will think at the grocery store. She's always making up little scenarios about how this person was definitely staring at her ratty jeans and was probably thinking what a terrible mother she is. Or boy wouldn't it be nice to have a diaper bag and a husband to hold hands with? But instead here I am sitting on the grass drinking watered down coffee with my daughter who is wearing the same shirt as yesterday and boy life sucks so hard. Good lord she was exhausting. Nothing really happens in the book. She works as a maid, she moves around a bit, she earns money, looses money and then moves to Montana because she always wanted to go to school there. I don't know. I'm out of words to describe this book. There's nothing of any real substance here. I'm sorry she had a terrible time in life. I'm happy she's doing well now. Congrats on the book, I guess? I think it would've made a fantastic fiction book that was based on real life events instead of a memoir. But as it is, I'm reluctantly giving this book just one star.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    “I WORK 25 HOURS A WEEK AS A PROFESSIONAL CLEANER, BUT IT’S NOT ENOUGH TO PAY THE BILLS.” (Page 131) Going into this book, I so badly wanted to come out rooting for Stephanie Land, but I keep coming back to that quote above and cannot wrap my head around what should be “surprising” about her story. As a college educated woman who works for one of the largest companies in the world, if I worked 25 hours a week it would not be enough to pay my bills either. Is there a larger theme I’m missing that “I WORK 25 HOURS A WEEK AS A PROFESSIONAL CLEANER, BUT IT’S NOT ENOUGH TO PAY THE BILLS.” (Page 131) Going into this book, I so badly wanted to come out rooting for Stephanie Land, but I keep coming back to that quote above and cannot wrap my head around what should be “surprising” about her story. As a college educated woman who works for one of the largest companies in the world, if I worked 25 hours a week it would not be enough to pay my bills either. Is there a larger theme I’m missing that we should all be able to work part-time? This book claims to be an exploration of poverty in America, but it’s not; it’s a single perspective about one woman and the assumptions she makes about those who employ her. There are so many WTF moments in this book that I truly wish I could have called Land to get more of the facts, and maybe that’s just par for the course with this being her first book, but ultimately these things led me to feel the way I do: - Why, at 29, does she have no savings and decide to have a baby with an abusive man who has indicated he doesn’t want to care for the child? - How is she spending $275/month on gas to see Jaime when she’s said that Mia only goes to him every other weekend? Is she driving 4 hours both ways? - When she clearly can’t afford to raise Mia on her own, why was she saving baby clothes “just in case” she might have a baby with her then abusive boyfriend, Travis? - When she receives $100 from her dad, why doesn’t she save it for food instead of spending it on Match.com? - She says that she looked for jobs and private clients on Craigslist, but was she also looking for full-time work elsewhere? - Why was she looking at expensive private schools for Mia? What was wrong with free, public preschools, or even looking at local churches? - When she gets her $4,000 tax refund, why does she buy a $200 diamond ring immediately after describing how her daughter is violently ill from the black mold in their apartment? - When she complains that she was so bored at clients’ houses after she finished cleaning that she filled the time by snooping, why didn’t she use this time instead to do schoolwork? Many of these decisions are selfish ones, but Land refuses to acknowledge that. In the absence of any background or introspection, I found it difficult to form a positive opinion of Land. Of course, she’s under no obligation to explain any of this to anyone, but without all the facts, I honestly felt that the narrative was trying to convince me that she is a whiny, privileged woman who casts blame on everyone but herself for her choices, and who actively tries to work as little as possible to spend more time with her daughter. The lack of discussion, remorse, anxiety, or reflection about things she could have done differently, or mistakes she made, was jarring to me—especially in a memoir. The description of this book over-promised on what it’s actually about. I wish Land would have focused more on her struggles with various types of government support, the experiences of her co-workers, and perhaps a larger theme about how the choices you make in life can ultimately have damning consequences. Instead what she provided is a look into the lives and homes of the people she was working for: the people who paid her, while unbeknownst to them, she rifled through their prescriptions, personal effects, human ashes, or donned their clothing: “I’d miss her cashmere hoodie with sleeves long enough to cover my hands and pet my cheeks when I put it on” (page 243). I don’t know why this book is being compared to Evicted or Nickel and Dimed because it bears no resemblance. See more of my reviews: Blog // Instagram

  4. 4 out of 5

    Maureen

    Stephanie Land didn’t experience the best start in life, well not when it comes down to the most important thing for a child - love. Neither parent seemed to have much of it to give, in fact they present themselves as extremely selfish individuals. Stephanie finds herself pregnant and in an abusive relationship, which should herald the end of her dreams of going to college, but this is one thing that she will try desperately to hang onto. We accompany Stephanie and her daughter Mia, as they attem Stephanie Land didn’t experience the best start in life, well not when it comes down to the most important thing for a child - love. Neither parent seemed to have much of it to give, in fact they present themselves as extremely selfish individuals. Stephanie finds herself pregnant and in an abusive relationship, which should herald the end of her dreams of going to college, but this is one thing that she will try desperately to hang onto. We accompany Stephanie and her daughter Mia, as they attempt to overcome the many trials and tribulations that come with being caught up in the poverty trap. The rules imposed on people in their position appear to be designed to keep them there! Life for Stephanie is really tough - it’s a round of long hours of physically hard work as a maid, cleaning the homes of the wealthy, whilst receiving low pay in return, and she still tries to include some study time in the hopes of a better future. In addition, Mia is a sickly child who’s illnesses are compounded by the poor living conditions that they have to endure. There’s also the indignities that Stephanie experiences when using food stamps in the grocery store - on one occasion the man behind her in the queue remarks loudly enough so that everyone can hear “You’re welcome “ the implication being that he personally has paid for the food by paying his taxes. Little did he know just how hard Stephanie had to work to simply hang onto what little she had - the old car that was essential to enable her to get to clients homes, the glass walled studio apartment overlooking the freeway, which was freezing cold and black with mould in winter, and then turned into a greenhouse in the summer, (and she could barely afford even that)! But most of all it was Mia that made the hard work not only essential, but worth it, as Stephanie battled against ex partner Jamie’s constant threats to apply for custody of Mia every time something went wrong in her life. There’s no doubt that Stephanie did initially make some poor choices in life, (though she soon discovers that freedom of choice is a privilege granted only to those with financial security) but it would be wrong of me to suggest that everything that happens to her was entirely her fault - it wasn’t. Once you’re in a cycle of poverty, it’s really really difficult to get out of it. There were moments when she couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, but her love for Mia just pushes her that extra yard to aspire to those goals that she thought were lost forever. I do feel that some areas of Stephanie's personal life were skimmed over in favour of descriptions of clients homes. Just one instance of this was when a male friend lent her a car, it turned out that she'd been 'seeing' him on and off for some time, but this was the first and only mention of him! However, this was an enlightening memoir with regard to the human face of poverty -the one behind the government’s statistics. *Thank you to Netgalley and Orion Publishing Group, Trapeze for my ARC. I have given an honest unbiased review in exchange *

  5. 4 out of 5

    karen

    oooh, goodreads choice awards semifinalist for BEST MEMOIR & AUTOBIOGRAPHY 2019! what will happen? ********************************************** fulfilling book riot's 2018 read harder challenge task #14: A book of social science this one might be more memoir than social science, but it's ehrenreich-approved and that's good enough for me!! ********************************************** okay, so i would say this is definitely more memoir than social science, but i went into it with good intentions, a oooh, goodreads choice awards semifinalist for BEST MEMOIR & AUTOBIOGRAPHY 2019! what will happen? ********************************************** fulfilling book riot's 2018 read harder challenge task #14: A book of social science this one might be more memoir than social science, but it's ehrenreich-approved and that's good enough for me!! ********************************************** okay, so i would say this is definitely more memoir than social science, but i went into it with good intentions, and it's too close to the end of the year* for me to be a stickler for reading challenge precision. if the bookriot police wanna come for me. i'll be here, trying to accomplish my remaining annual reading goals. i do not know why this year was such a difficult one for my reading. or, i do, but this is not the place to moan about it. although part of it is actually a good segue into reviewing this book - finding work that pays the bills has become my most prolonged struggle. my situation is in no way as difficult as the author’s, but the fears that keep her up at night, the distance she perceives between herself and those of even average financial means, the anxiety and shame and sacrifices - i found myself relating to it more than was pleasant to relate: Most of my friendships had faded over the last year because I’d isolated myself and hidden from the embarrassment of my daily life. again, and i cannot stress this enough - my situation is in no way as dire as hers was. i’m not comparing - i’m empathizing with the way it feels to work hard and still be struggling, to exhaust yourself for barely enough to get by. The child support I received barely covered the cost of gas. The entire $275 a month went to the trips back and forth so Mia could see her dad. i am only responsible for my ownself and i can’t imagine having to care and provide for a child on what i’m able to earn, nor can i imagine having to navigate the truly byzantine web of government assistance agencies, especially having to navigate them in the condition motherhood and poverty can leave a person - depleted by anxiety attacks, hunger, illness, exhaustion, and perpetual physical pain from hard manual labor. so much of her account is exasperating, illuminating the ways that logic is broken: The most frustrating part of being stuck in the system were the penalties it seemed I received for improving my life. On a couple of occasions, my income pushed me over the limit by a few dollars, I'd lose hundreds of dollars in benefits. Due to my self-employment, I had to report my income every few months. Earning $50 extra could make my co-pay at day care go up by the same amount. Sometimes it meant losing my childcare grant altogether. There was no incentive or opportunity to save money. The system kept me locked down, scraping the bottom of the barrel, and without a plan to climb out of it. and how degrading and soul-killing the cycle: I thought of how many times the police, firemen, and paramedics had come to our building in the last couple of months; of the random checks to make sure living spaces were kept clean or to make sure broken-down cars in the parking lot had been repaired; to patrol us so that we weren’t doing the awful things they expected poor people to do, like allowing the laundry or garbage to pile up, when really, we lacked physical energy and resources from working jobs no one else wanted to do. We were expected to live off minimum wage, to work several jobs at varying hours, to afford basic needs while fighting for safe places to leave our children. Somehow nobody saw the work; they only saw the results of living a life that constantly crushed you with its impossibility. so, it’s a memoir with social science appeal. it absolutely leaves an impression about what it’s like to be trapped in the struggle, trying to stay healthy enough to work a thankless job when even ibuprofin is a luxury, to take online courses after a full day’s work on an empty stomach, to sacrifice, to swallow pride, and to work really hard, whether people “see” the work or not. i’m going to be annoying and type out a whole thing now, but i think this part of the book does the best job at highlighting both the social science bits (how unreasonable the system) and the memoir bits (how humiliating to endure the perceptions of needing the system). it also gives you a good sense of her writing style, and you can always not read it if you don’t like reading. Even though I really needed it, I stopped using WIC checks for milk, cheese, eggs, and peanut butter — I never seemed to get the right size, brand, or color of eggs, the correct type of juice, or the specific number of ounces of cereal anyway. Each coupon had such specific requirements in what it could be used for, and I held my breath when the cashier rang them up. I always screwed up in some way and caused a holdup in the line. Maybe others did the same, since cashiers grew visibly annoyed whenever they saw one of those large WIC coupons on the conveyor belt. Once, after massive amounts of miscommunication with the cashier, an older couple started huffing and shaking their heads at me. My caseworker at the WIC office even prepared me for it. The program had recently downgraded their qualifying milk from organic to non-organic, leaving me with a missing chunk in my food budget I couldn’t afford to make up. If at all possible, I tried to give Mia only organic whole milk. Non-organic, 2 percent milk might as well have been white-colored water to me, packed with sugar, salt, antibiotics, and hormones. These coupons were my last chance for a while to offer her the one organic food she ingested (besides her boxes of Annie’s macaroni and cheese). When I’d scoffed at losing the benefit to purchase organic whole milk, my caseworker nodded and sighed. “We just don’t have the funding for it anymore,” she’d told me. I somewhat understood, since a half gallon had a price tag of nearly four dollars. “The obesity rates are going up in children,” she added, “and this is a program focused on providing the best nutrition.” “They don’t realize that skim milk is full of sugar?” I asked, allowing Mia to climb out of my lap so she could play with the toys in the corner. “They’re also adding ten dollars for produce!” she added brightly, ignoring my grumpy attitude. “You can purchase any produce you want, except potatoes.” “Why not potatoes?” I thought of the large batches of mashed potatoes I made to supplement my diet. “People tend to fry them or add lots of butter,” she said, looking a little confused herself. “You can get sweet potatoes, though!” She explained I’d have to purchase exactly ten dollars’ worth or less, and I wouldn’t be able to go over, or the check wouldn’t work. I wouldn’t get any change if the produce I selected rang in under ten dollars. The coupons didn’t have any real monetary value. That day at the store, with it being the last month of organic milk, I wanted every bit I could get. “Your milk isn’t a WIC item,” the cashier said again. “It won’t ring up that way.” She started to turn to the young man bagging our other groceries and sighed. I knew she was going to tell him to go run and get the right kind of milk. It happened to me with the eggs all the time. My checks weren’t expired, but the store had already updated their system. Normally, I would have cowered, taken the non-organic milk, and run out, especially with two old people shaking their heads in annoyance. I glanced at them again and caught the man standing with his arms crossed and head tilted, eyeing my pants with holes in the knees. My shoes were getting holes in the toes. He loudly sighed again. I asked to speak to the manager. The cashier’s eyebrows shot up as she shrugged her shoulders and put up her hands in front of me, like I’d pulled out a gun and ordered her to give me all her money. “Sure,” she said, evenly and coolly; the voice of a customer service representative faced with an unruly shopper. “I’ll get the manager for you.” As he walked over, I could see his flustered employee following behind him, red-faced and gesturing wildly, even pointing at me, to explain her side of the story. He immediately apologized and overrode the cash register. Then he rang up my organic whole milk as a WIC item, bagged it, and told me to have a wonderful day. As I pushed my cart away, my hands still shaking, the old man nodded towards my groceries and said, “You’re welcome!” I grew infuriated. You’re welcome for what?” I wanted to yell back at him. That he’d waited so impatiently, huffing and grumbling to his wife? It couldn’t have been that. It was that I was obviously poor, and shopping in the middle of the day, pointedly not at work. He didn’t know I had to take an afternoon off for the WIC appointment, missing $40 in wages, where they had to weigh both Mia and me. We left with a booklet of coupons that supplemented about the same as those lost wages, but not the disgruntled client whom I’d had to reschedule, who might, if I ever needed to reschedule again, go with a different cleaner, because my work was that disposable. But what he saw was that those coupons were paid for by government money, the money he’d personally contributed to with the taxes he’d paid. To him, he might as well have personally bought the fancy milk I insisted on, but I was obviously poor so I didn’t deserve it. ugh, right? don't go over, don't go under, buy this, don't buy that, jump through hoops and get it all right and people will STILL look down on you for the fun carefree life you're having living hand to mouth. good grief. so, yeah - it's just one woman's experience, but it exposes a lot of systemic cracks and maybe it'll make one old man at a grocery store less of a jerk someday. * you are not time-traveling! i started this review months ago and got distracted by shiny things. come to my blog!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Bookworm

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. As a licensed clinical social worker with over 30 years experience working with the marginalized populations, I was predisposed to like this book, and be sympathetic toward the protagonist. However I was surprised to find as I read this book, what little empathy I had for her. She does not come across as sympathetic but rather as whiny and entitled. This is a 28-year-old woman who got pregnant, bore a child, and had to use “several different programs” to get by. Throughout the book she complains As a licensed clinical social worker with over 30 years experience working with the marginalized populations, I was predisposed to like this book, and be sympathetic toward the protagonist. However I was surprised to find as I read this book, what little empathy I had for her. She does not come across as sympathetic but rather as whiny and entitled. This is a 28-year-old woman who got pregnant, bore a child, and had to use “several different programs” to get by. Throughout the book she complains about the multiple programs she has to have access to obtain help for herself and her daughter. She complains about having to clean houses for a living, but does not appear to seek any other type of employment . She complains about the people whose homes she has to clean and comes across as judgmental regarding their lifestyles, but seems to have very little insight regarding her own. Ms. Land assumes everyone is looking down on her for having to use WIC and SNAP, to feed herself and her daughter. Then she complains about not being able to purchase organic milk and a Aunt Annie’s Mac n cheese with WIC. Seriously, people who have 2 parents working can’t afford this stuff and she’s complaining? But never mind, she makes a fuss and the manager fixes it for her. But wait, the couple behind her is miffed and she is sure it’s because she’s using government assistance, not because she held up the line. Who knows, either scenario could be true, but Ms. Land appears to prefer to make herself a victim who is constantly being judged for using government programs. Although I am sure she experienced this on several occasions, she makes it seem as if every single time she went to the store she was being judged. She plays the “abuse card“ although there is no evidence that her child’s father is abusive, other than he’s not a nice person and he punches a hole in a wall. Yet despite her constant fretting about his bad character, she leaves her daughter with him, often asking for extra time so she can work. Ok I get it, she needs to make money. But then she worries about the child’s weight loss after staying with him, hearing men’s voices in the background when she calls her child and not being able to talk to her ex, and the daughters clinginess upon returning, yet she STILL leaves her with him to go on vacation by HERSELF. Subsequently, she leaves her daughter alone in the car, off the highway to fetch a toy that went out a window, only to have the car wrecked with her daughter inside. Then she refuses to have her daughter be taken the hospital by ambulance to be checked out due to her concern missing work. However, once she receives a $4000 tax refund check, does she put some money away for a rainy day? To look for a better place to live, because the mold in her current apartment is causing her daughter to be constantly ill ? No she buy some needed things, pays off some bills, and then buys herself the diamond ring, and goes on vacation. By herself. I could go on and on about what a disaster this woman seems to be. I finished the book, and curious about what had happened to her after her success in publishing her book , found that she did not appear to learn anything from the above experience. In her senior year of university she finds herself pregnant once again, without a partner, and about to be homeless. Again. With 2 kids now and no partner. So this memoir rang false to me. This is not a book about being a maid. It’s basically a book about a woman who makes one poor choice after another, whining the entire time, blaming others for her situation, while blithely continuing on the same path she claims she was so desperate to get off.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    Wish I could have climbed into these pages and given this young woman a hug! Nineteen pregnant, she leaves an abusive relationship. When her daughter is born she is a single mother with few resources and very little support. This is a honest, down to earth, telling of her story trying to manuver through a system that is stacked against her. She is a hard worker and takes the only job she can get, while still taking care of her daughter, and taking online classes in a effort to provide for a bett Wish I could have climbed into these pages and given this young woman a hug! Nineteen pregnant, she leaves an abusive relationship. When her daughter is born she is a single mother with few resources and very little support. This is a honest, down to earth, telling of her story trying to manuver through a system that is stacked against her. She is a hard worker and takes the only job she can get, while still taking care of her daughter, and taking online classes in a effort to provide for a better future. She cleans houses, working whenever she can, for very little money, and much pain. She tells her story without dramatics, yet one can not help but feel for her and her little Mia. It is easy to be an armchairir quarterback, and zero in on all the things she could have been differently, but the truth is much more complicated. Her parents, divorced, both with new mates, are either unwilling or unable to help. It would be a cold day in hell, before I would refuse to help any child of mine to the best of my ability, let alone my granddaughter. Always budgeting, pay day to pay day, government aid only covering the bare or should I say barely covering, the basics. She has to deal with the shame she feels, and the condemnation of those who see her in the grocery using her food card. One man actually told her to thank him as he was paying for her groceries with his taxes. There is little incentive to work harder as making only fifty dollars more would disqualify her for her childcare voucher, or jepardize her rent subsidy. Her life is not all sorrow, she has happy times, wonderful times with her daughter, one can tell how much she wishes she could provide for her in a better way. These systems, like so many others in the states are broken, flawed, but it is so hard to change people's thinking. Maybe this book would help, because she shows that the working poor are not restricted to one race, but cross socioeconomic barriers and skin color. The book does end on a hopeful note and I certainly hope she and Mia continue to do well. ARC from Hatchette books.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Linda Hutchinson

    This won’t be popular but I found this book, “Maid,” supremely irritating. The pitch was whiny, judgmental, and jealous. This may come off as harsh but some life situations are made from bad choices. Some from just bad luck. But to begrudge anyone else a bit of happiness because your life is hard was just poor taste. I admire Stephanie Land’s work ethic...but, I didn’t think her writing was strong and the details were repetitious. There is a limit as to how many times I want to read an exhaustiv This won’t be popular but I found this book, “Maid,” supremely irritating. The pitch was whiny, judgmental, and jealous. This may come off as harsh but some life situations are made from bad choices. Some from just bad luck. But to begrudge anyone else a bit of happiness because your life is hard was just poor taste. I admire Stephanie Land’s work ethic...but, I didn’t think her writing was strong and the details were repetitious. There is a limit as to how many times I want to read an exhaustive description about cleaning revolting toilets. Finally, lest you think I’m a total curmudgeon, I was raised by a mother who worked long hours while raising four children and taking care of her elderly parents. Mom did not complain. My Mom enrolled in college after we graduated high school and obtained her social work degree and used her personal experience to help disenfranchised women find new purpose in life. I’m glad Ms. Land has found success in life as a writer and I hope it will brings her much happiness. It’s what I wish for all of us.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie

    This book is TERRIBLE. I cannot understand why it's being compared to “Nickeled and Dimed” or “Evicted”, both of which are well written, researched and coherent. But this? It’s nothing but a 200+ page Go-Fund-Me rant. The writing is also very poor, alternating between pretentious and sloppy ("off of" is not a synonym for “from”, for God's sake). Which was disappointing, as I was very interested in reading Stephanie Land's story & experiences. I was a single mother as a teenager. I know firsthand This book is TERRIBLE. I cannot understand why it's being compared to “Nickeled and Dimed” or “Evicted”, both of which are well written, researched and coherent. But this? It’s nothing but a 200+ page Go-Fund-Me rant. The writing is also very poor, alternating between pretentious and sloppy ("off of" is not a synonym for “from”, for God's sake). Which was disappointing, as I was very interested in reading Stephanie Land's story & experiences. I was a single mother as a teenager. I know firsthand what it’s like to take jobs you don’t like to make ends meet, worry about every penny, live in crappy apartments and struggle through school and work while raising kids. But this book feels more about the author's agenda than her actual experiences. Throughout the book, Stephanie takes great pains to repeatedly describe what a victim she is, yet doesn't ever acknowledge her own contributions to her situation. She's 28 when she becomes a single mother, which is, actually, an ADULT. She isn’t a teenager, she’s not even particularly young. What was she doing up to age 28? How do you get to be almost 30 without developing any skills that enable you to support yourself, or making any attempt at education, so that you are utterly dependent on others? It's all about how no one else helps her enough, and she comes across as a judgmental, angry child. For instance, she describes her mother and William as showing up in “Euro outfits” (whatever those are) on her moving day, as apparently they failed to realize the day was all about her and they should have dressed accordingly. So she retaliates with cruel jabs at her mother’s weight and clothes that read like they are written by a sulky 13 year old (it certainly sounds like her mother is far from perfect, but did make me wonder if maybe her mother moved out of the country in part to get away from a spoiled 20 something daughter who just wouldn’t grow up - it does feel like there's a lot of backstory there that isn't mentioned). Quite a few things she claims people have said to her also just don't ring true, like her old friend telling her she should “thank her” for the tax funded benefits she is using. This didn’t sound like something someone would say to an old friend out of the blue, as it is described. It does, however, sound very much like something an old friend might say if they were sick and tired of listening to constant “poor me” whining. This theme reoccurs throughout the book, for example, there's the scene in the store where Stephanie describes arguing to get her WIC voucher accepted for organic milk (sob), after which she claims the older man behind her in line says snidely to her – “you’re welcome” (e.g., we are paying for your WIC). Really? In over 20 years living in cities & different neighborhoods across the US, I have never, ever, seen anyone be that confrontational towards anyone paying with food stamps or any other kind of voucher. I don’t believe that the author, or her method of paying for groceries, looms nearly as large for the people around her as it does in her head – she seems to imagine that everyone is looking at her as judgmentally as she looks at everyone else. She may have heard those words, but I’m willing to bet the voice was the one in her head. She makes one bad decision after another and doesn't seem to be self-aware in the least. She doesn't appear to have ever considered consequences, taken responsibility, or learned from any of her experiences. She’s filled with anger and petty envy, and goes around making assumptions and judgments, constantly tearing people down when she thinks they have more than she does, or what she feels entitled to but doesn't have. I get why she would feel sad or wistful at seeing happy looking families, or people who appear to be better off than she is, but she has zero empathy for anyone, as she sneakily goes through people’s things while working as a maid (while criticizing her co-worker for stealing snacks). She clumsily points out ways in which we are supposed to infer that she is better than the people around her – like Travis, who wants to watch TV instead of talking about “books and politics” like she does (aka, I’m so smart). Yet she’s also constantly making sure to call out that she wears Carhartts in a phony-folksy way, like it's a badge of something. She seems to have no understanding that she is, actually, better off than many people, for example, she actually gets child support payments, apparently. Then there is her Craigslist ad, “I work 25 hours a week as a maid and I can’t pay my bills”. This one made me roll my eyes so hard they almost fell out of my head. LMFAO, 25 hours a week? Who can pay their bills on 25 hours a week? And the constant whining about not being paid for her commute time. Having to pay for gas and commute to work, oh the inhumanity. So all in all this is just a boring, self-serving mess, and I am astonished at the superlatives heaped on this book. Biographies are personal stories, people aren’t perfect, and writers don’t need to be likable. But one thing biographies do need to be is authentic. And this doesn’t even come close.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Yun

    Maid is Stephanie Land's memoir of her arduous and often back-breaking journey to claw herself out of poverty and to find a place of belonging and financial stability for her and her young daughter. It details her desperation to take on any menial jobs available to make ends meet while being a single mother, taking night classes to complete her degree, and being on government assistance that barely bridged the gap to food and shelter. I found the writing to be stirring and heartbreaking. Land oft Maid is Stephanie Land's memoir of her arduous and often back-breaking journey to claw herself out of poverty and to find a place of belonging and financial stability for her and her young daughter. It details her desperation to take on any menial jobs available to make ends meet while being a single mother, taking night classes to complete her degree, and being on government assistance that barely bridged the gap to food and shelter. I found the writing to be stirring and heartbreaking. Land often had to make impossible choices, such as staying in an abusive relationship, or leaving and being homeless. Or putting her daughter in a crummy daycare versus caring for her when she's sick but losing her wages for the day. Her raw desperation could be felt in the pages. Land also talks about the demoralizing interactions she had with people who looked down on her need for government assistance. Strangers would yell "You're welcome!" when she tried to use food stamps at grocery stores, as if being poor is somehow a choice and a moral failing. Even on food stamps, she often could only afford to eat instant noodles at the end of the month when her food budget ran out. And yet, even though Land's tale is no doubt compelling, I do admit I found the memoir to be a little lacking. Land spends a lot of time talking about her maid jobs, the houses she cleans, what the state of the rooms are, and what she guesses her clients and their lives are like. It makes for a juicy read, sure, but it doesn't add any insight. There is so much potential in this book, yet much remains unexplored. For example, I would have liked to read her views on what policy changes would make a difference. There is so much she personally encountered that didn't quite work for her (minimum wage and government assistance) or she didn't have access to (benefits and health care). I would have liked to see her take those and put forth a discussion on what could be done to make things better, not just for her but also others going through a hard time. In the end, this was a riveting and moving tale of one person's struggles through poverty, and I appreciate it for what it is. I just wish Land had used the opportunity to turn her personal perspective into suggestions on policy updates, without which nothing will change. In that respect, this book felt like a missed opportunity.

  11. 4 out of 5

    j e w e l s

    FOUR STARS I saw Stephanie Land, the author, on my hometown local morning television show. I was struck by her sincerity, her soft voice, and her courage in “outing” herself as a single mother struggling to survive in poverty. Land’s memoir begins with her unexpected pregnancy by a new boyfriend at age 28. The boyfriend is more than a jerk and Land gets away from him once he becomes violent. Without any family help that she could count on, Land lives with her baby daughter in a homeless shelter a FOUR STARS I saw Stephanie Land, the author, on my hometown local morning television show. I was struck by her sincerity, her soft voice, and her courage in “outing” herself as a single mother struggling to survive in poverty. Land’s memoir begins with her unexpected pregnancy by a new boyfriend at age 28. The boyfriend is more than a jerk and Land gets away from him once he becomes violent. Without any family help that she could count on, Land lives with her baby daughter in a homeless shelter and then in low-rent apartments that she could barely afford. Over the next few years she supports herself and her kid by cleaning homes and doing yard work. She spends an inordinate amount of time applying for government aid, keeping files of paperwork and arranging her work schedule around government office schedules. “I was,” Land wrote, “overwhelmed by how much work it took to prove I was poor.” The bulk of the memoir details her grueling experiences as a faceless, invisible house cleaner. Cleaning houses for hours on end, often sick (she and her daughter lived in a black-mold ridden apartment and suffered constant sinus infections, etc.) meant she was almost always in some type of muscular or nerve pain. Instead of surnames, Land refers to her clients by how she thinks of their homes. There is the Sad House, the Porn House, the Plant House. She silently becomes intimately familiar with her clients’ bathroom habits and drug preferences. I think this is a one-sided affair that has been going on since before there were servants at Downton Abbey. The nosy minded (me!) will really enjoy some of these house descriptions. These families run the gamut of society and helped solidify the notion to Land that “having money doesn’t mean happiness.” The book ends on a bit of a happy note-- Land did not allow her soul crushing occupation to take away her dreams of a college degree and becoming a writer. However, in the interview I saw, she states that she was still forced to apply for food stamps for some time afterwards. Land’s completely raw honesty is admirable. I believe her unwavering love for her daughter is truly what saved her. This memoir is worth reading. Just be prepared for a more melancholy feel versus an inspired one. I listened to the audio version. Excellent! The author narrates and did a wonderful job.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Cristina Monica

    The low average rating for this one baffles me. Personally, I was completely consumed. I had never read something like this before. Stephanie Land opened my eyes and made me face the truth about so many issues I had never thought much about before. She also made me realize that there are ways to discuss poverty and financial issues with dignity, elegance and strength. Stephanie Land did that. In her memoir, she discusses working as a maid while caring for her daughter and receiving help from gov The low average rating for this one baffles me. Personally, I was completely consumed. I had never read something like this before. Stephanie Land opened my eyes and made me face the truth about so many issues I had never thought much about before. She also made me realize that there are ways to discuss poverty and financial issues with dignity, elegance and strength. Stephanie Land did that. In her memoir, she discusses working as a maid while caring for her daughter and receiving help from government programs. Programs that are strict and do not allow her to breathe easily. I think many people assume, myself included, that people who receive help from the government are not doing enough. But I was shocked to discover that it’s not about being unwilling to work and contribute to society just like everyone else. It’s not so simple. Stephanie Land works hard and well, and yet, she cannot escape her own situation. Government programs barely help her survive, let alone get her back on her own two feet. I’ve read a couple of reviews and seen some people criticise Stephanie’s decisions or actions. You can do that, certainly. But I wasn’t able to, personally. There wasn’t one moment I told myself, ‘‘Fuck, Stephanie, why did you do that?’’ There was no way I could judge anything she did so long as she provided for her daughter and loved her with all her heart, which she did. It’s easy to judge from the comfort of your home, but hell I’ve never been in Stephanie’s shoes. Who knows if I would have done better? Seems to me like Stephanie did the best she could and I applaud her for it. Blog | Youtube | Twitter | Instagram | Google+ | Bloglovin’

  13. 5 out of 5

    Stacy

    This book is terrible. Where do I start? This is basically a book of a woman complaining "woe is me", throwing herself a pity party. She blames everyone else for her problems and doesn't accept any responsibility for her terrible decisions. First of all, this book promised what it didn't deliver. From the Amazon description: "Maid explores the underbelly of upper-middle class America and the reality of what it's like to be in service to them." Nope. There is no glimpse at "upper-middle" class ot This book is terrible. Where do I start? This is basically a book of a woman complaining "woe is me", throwing herself a pity party. She blames everyone else for her problems and doesn't accept any responsibility for her terrible decisions. First of all, this book promised what it didn't deliver. From the Amazon description: "Maid explores the underbelly of upper-middle class America and the reality of what it's like to be in service to them." Nope. There is no glimpse at "upper-middle" class other than her judging her clients for being "sad" or "smoking cigarettes" when she smokes herself. Secondly, she doesn't provide a look into the poverty in America. She doesn't recognize herself coming from a place of privilege as a white, American woman. She was afforded opportunities that other marginalized groups may not have received. She describes some of her greatest "sacrifices" as being her daughter not being able to get "organic" milk on the WIC program and her daughter's only "organic" foods were Annie's macaroni and cheese. Really? There are many, many, many Americans that can barely afford groceries and would be thankful to have any milk or food for the week, much less being choosy about ensuring it was "organic". She seems to lament that she can't be a "stay at home mom" which the majority of Americans can't afford. The "stay at home mom" role is something that very few can afford. That isn't a mark of "poverty". Many families have both parents who work, that isn't something "special" or sympathy inducing. Then there is the accident in which she pulled off on the median of a highway and leaves her daughter in the car seat while she walks along the highway looking for a $5 doll. Then she refuses to accept any blame or her role in the accident. She complains about not getting paid to drive to the jobs she works....um....do any of us get paid for our commute? She then gets $4,000 back in a tax refund, which is annoying within itself, but then instead of saving the money and building her future, she buys herself a diamond ring? What?? Her daughter is suffering health consequences from black mold, yet she doesn't nothing about that...no, instead, she wants diamonds. She is so full of self-pity the book is hard to read. One of the most important components of a book is to have a likable main character in which the reader can sympathize with and roots for their success. I tried, but I couldn't make myself root for her. I can't believe this book made its way through an agent, editor and publishing house and became a featured book on Amazon. Did any of them read this first? Super disappointing.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Brandice

    In Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive, we meet Stephanie Land, a single mom to her daughter, Mia, trying to keep a roof over their heads and maintain some form of stable life. This is easier said than done as Stephanie is met with numerous challenges including little support from her family, Mia’s father, and other relationships, as well as multiple jobs with low paying wages that rarely allow those performing them to get ahead. A few years ago I read Evicted, which I reall In Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive, we meet Stephanie Land, a single mom to her daughter, Mia, trying to keep a roof over their heads and maintain some form of stable life. This is easier said than done as Stephanie is met with numerous challenges including little support from her family, Mia’s father, and other relationships, as well as multiple jobs with low paying wages that rarely allow those performing them to get ahead. A few years ago I read Evicted, which I really enjoyed despite numerous difficult subjects throughout the book. In some ways Maid reminded me of Evicted. Though Evicted is more of a culture study and well-researched, Stephanie shared some of the struggles referenced in that book. Maid is a mix between Stephanie’s own challenges and observations in her work, of the lives of the residents whose houses she cleaned. It wasn’t difficult to follow, I just wasn’t sure what direction this was headed in for awhile. It was almost as if there were 2 separate stories in this one book. I felt anxious for Stephanie in her current circumstances - How would she be able to survive another financial blow? How could she only take $6 home from a cleaning job that her employing company charged $25 for? How could Mia be sick again, and why isn’t she getting any better? If Stephanie made $50 more a month, she could lose her government assisted funding so, what was the point of trying to get ahead? It was stressful to read about these numerous struggles. Yes, stressful for me, as a removed, third-party reader so I can’t imagine the stress Stephanie felt, living it. It’s often easy to criticize a situation and note what you would do and how you would handle things differently, but in this case, I didn’t feel this way to the extent I have with other memoirs I’ve previously read. Stephanie made some questionable decisions but I appreciated that she acknowledged many them (for example, staying in a relationship too long because she enjoyed the idea of it, though she knew it was already “over”) rather than denying them, or seeking sympathy because of the consequences of those choices. Maid is an interesting story and a reminder of the struggles many people face today. While it wasn’t my favorite memoir, overall, I enjoyed reading it. I admire the determination Stephanie maintained and hard work she put in, in order to create a better life for herself and for her daughter. Thank you to NetGalley and Hatchette Books for providing a copy of Maid in exchange for an honest review.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    First, this book is most certainly NOT in the category of Evicted, one of the most well-researched, measured and thoughtful books published on the subject of chronic poverty in America. I wanted to like this book, and feel that the subject matter is critically important to expose and discuss. Yet...I just didn't. There's a kind of immaturity about the book (and frankly, many of the author's actions) that grated, especially the flip-flopping between envy and judgment of the middle class families First, this book is most certainly NOT in the category of Evicted, one of the most well-researched, measured and thoughtful books published on the subject of chronic poverty in America. I wanted to like this book, and feel that the subject matter is critically important to expose and discuss. Yet...I just didn't. There's a kind of immaturity about the book (and frankly, many of the author's actions) that grated, especially the flip-flopping between envy and judgment of the middle class families she encounters. Here's an example: "Living with illness or pain was part of my daily life. But why did my clients have these problems? It seemed like access to healthy foods, gym memberships, doctors and all of that would keep a person fit and well. Maybe the stress of keeping up a two-story house, a bad marriage, and maintaining the illusion of grandeur overwhelmed their systems in similar ways to how poverty did mine." Really? It will be interesting to see how this book is received when published.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Esil

    3+ stars Maid has an important message and I have a lot of respect and sympathy for Stephanie Land, but I didn’t love reading her book. In her late 20s, Land found herself coming out of an abusive relationship as the single mother of a toddler. She had very few financial options, so she took what help she could from government assistance and started working as a maid. Her book is a memoir of the three or four years she struggled to support herself and her daughter before finding a way to get into 3+ stars Maid has an important message and I have a lot of respect and sympathy for Stephanie Land, but I didn’t love reading her book. In her late 20s, Land found herself coming out of an abusive relationship as the single mother of a toddler. She had very few financial options, so she took what help she could from government assistance and started working as a maid. Her book is a memoir of the three or four years she struggled to support herself and her daughter before finding a way to get into university. I struggled a bit with her book, because I couldn’t figure out what the focus was. Was I reading a memoir about the struggles of a single mother with limited resources? Or was I reading the observations of a someone who got a peak into other people’s lives through her work as a domestic worker? Both are important and interesting, but they didn’t quite mesh together for me in this book. Having said this, whether I enjoyed reading Land’s book or not, her memoir does paint a vivid picture of the effects of economic inequality. She worked incredibly hard while looking after her daughter and taking online courses, and yet she could barely afford an a place to live. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an opportunity to read an advance copy.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kimber

    Land reveals the secrets of maids: that feeling of knowing a house, sensing the energy within, and the lives that are lived there...We know more about you then you think but most maids will never resort to pilfering through your things at all. We were never allowed to open up anything, cupboards or closets. If a door was shut, there was a reason. And we were totally talking about you when we got back to the car, and in the office before we left. Sounds terrible, but it's how we got through the d Land reveals the secrets of maids: that feeling of knowing a house, sensing the energy within, and the lives that are lived there...We know more about you then you think but most maids will never resort to pilfering through your things at all. We were never allowed to open up anything, cupboards or closets. If a door was shut, there was a reason. And we were totally talking about you when we got back to the car, and in the office before we left. Sounds terrible, but it's how we got through the day. But alas, she is scattered in her approach here, and not getting enough detail in about her relationships or situation, while focusing on gross details of cleaning, or every single insulting gesture anybody's ever given her. She comes across very negatively in her behaviors,as being a "victim" and keeps complaining about how everybody treats her wrong. She is unlikable and comes across as arrogant and entitled. She fixates on things that don't matter but doesn't comment on what does. There wasn't enough information on the supporting characters: the frame of reference is usually how bad most people usually are towards her. How little she seems to appreciate how kind people can be towards her! Like the grocery store manager who just gave her the organic milk when she didn't know how to use her WIC benefits. Wasn't that a kind gesture? All she remembers is the guy's rudeness who had to stand in line behind her. And what about her kind employers at the maid agency who have to hear her pity story constantly, and have to go fix her mistakes when she refuses to because she is a poor single mother who never gets complaints. I wasn't sure how much she may have contributed to her relationship problems because there is not enough relevant info to go by. She moved in with boyfriend #2 quickly and then decided that instead of helping him on the farm, she would tire herself out cleaning houses. How must he have felt about that? He took in her and her daughter. And she quickly refers to anybody she is with as having abused her, with very little sympathy for their side of the story. Her parents and family are also incomplete sketches. I can see that they were narcissistic for doing so little to help her but still I felt kind of cheated in not knowing more about them. At least having in mind a portrait of who they are as PEOPLE. She is the one who comes across as entitled and as someone who they clearly don't want to help. The implication is that she expects their support because of being a single mom. She uses this to manipulate others constantly. She brought her child to the doctors (who was sick a long time and has medical benefits provided by the state) and was told the mold in the apartment was making her sick, very sick. Rather then reacting with a sense of urgency to take care of her daughter, her mind drifts to what she wants....to go to Montana, to be a writer.....to buy a diamond ring for herself.....It felt like she thought she would just do something about this problem when she gets to it...And of course, she is more offended by HOW the doctor spoke to her when she said, "You need to do better for her" instead of heeding those words! And she plays the victim when her daughters dad is furious at her or wants custody of the child? Perhaps I could have sympathy, had she given more information, other than all the niggly details about house cleaning that she'd rather focus on ? In the end, all she seems to care about is becoming a writer, fixating on living in Montana far from the father who doesn't deserve to be in her daughters life except when she had a need for a babysitter..... (because he was "abusive") In the end, she got her wish, but I still feel bad for her kid.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Donna

    This is one book that I’ve grappled with in trying to write a review. There are a few conflicting impressions that I’ve turned over in my mind, causing me to question why I feel as I do about the story. I thought about just giving a glossed-over review, focusing only on what I appreciated (and there was a lot to appreciate) about this account of a young, single mother’s struggle to survive and raise her child. I wanted to be generous, but I finally decided to just write the review to include wha This is one book that I’ve grappled with in trying to write a review. There are a few conflicting impressions that I’ve turned over in my mind, causing me to question why I feel as I do about the story. I thought about just giving a glossed-over review, focusing only on what I appreciated (and there was a lot to appreciate) about this account of a young, single mother’s struggle to survive and raise her child. I wanted to be generous, but I finally decided to just write the review to include what bothered me, and if that reflects negatively on me, then so be it. The title of the book, Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive is apt, as Stephanie Land describes how truly hard she worked for very low wages to give herself and her young daughter a place to call home, and yes – to simply survive. Her determination and grit (no pun intended) are evident. She did whatever it took to provide a roof, food, and basic needs for her family of two. She fielded issues with multiple government welfare and assistance programs, and dealt with anger and abusiveness from a former partner, the father of her daughter, Mia. She worked long hours for very little pay and labored with physically demanding jobs cleaning the homes of clients and doing occasional landscape work when she could get it. She struggled with day care and doctor situations when her child was sick, and lost wages during those times when she couldn’t make it to work. All in all, her situation was bleak and disheartening and terribly hard in every sense of the word. And she toiled through it to finish college and to write her story, and major kudos to her for doing so. Overall, the book is well-written, although there were several instances throughout when the flow just didn’t quite work. It was difficult to understand exactly what caused some of her problems to begin with; there was confusing and incomplete background information. We learn that her mother lives in Europe and that the author and her father don’t really connect. There’s a brother out there somewhere, but we know next to nothing about him or why he can’t help her in some way. It’s possible there are reasons that information was left private, but stating that, at least, would have been helpful and less confusing to the reader. Also baffling was the ongoing message that there were never enough hours, that work and school and taking care of Mia were exhausting. And then out of the blue, with no explanation, she mentions that she’s been dating a few people. Where did that come from? I mean, good for her, but when? How? What?? I felt much empathy for Stephanie through the description of her money and job worries. I’ve been there, and my heart ached for the times she felt so helpless and hopeless. The love and care she gave to her daughter also resonated with me; it’s obvious that Mia was always first and foremost in her concerns. The thing that truly bothered me about her story is kind of double-edged. I think she was being very honest about her actions, and for that, I applaud her. But the descriptions of her “snooping” (her word) through a client’s home made me so sad. Reading pill bottles, receipts for payments, looking through books and sorting through mail on a table, repeatedly trying on a sweater in someone’s closet – all of these were upsetting to me. But the most egregious to me was her opening the jars and looking at the ashes of loved ones, on more than one occasion. I also took exception to her basically gossiping to the reader about her clients, passing judgment on them just as others had passed judgment on her. I know her life was beyond difficult and she had been looked down upon and treated miserably. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that others deserved respect from her, as well, and I’m sad that she did these things and shared them in her story. Again, I applaud Ms. Land for her hard work, determination and for telling her story. I just can’t give this more than 3 stars based on my concerns for some of the things missing in her story, and for some of the things I wish she hadn't shared. Thank you to NetGalley and Hachette Books for an ARC in exchange for my honest review.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    "Poverty was like a stagnant pool of mud that pulled at our feet and refused to let go." from Maid by Stephanie Land I'll be brutally honest, and you can "unfollow" me if you want, I don't care, but ever since Presidents Roosevelt and Johnson created social programs to help the poor there have been politicians determined to slash, limit, and end them. And one of their methods is to vilify the poor as blood-sucking, lazy, ignorant, "self-entitled" criminals who live off the hard earned tax dollars "Poverty was like a stagnant pool of mud that pulled at our feet and refused to let go." from Maid by Stephanie Land I'll be brutally honest, and you can "unfollow" me if you want, I don't care, but ever since Presidents Roosevelt and Johnson created social programs to help the poor there have been politicians determined to slash, limit, and end them. And one of their methods is to vilify the poor as blood-sucking, lazy, ignorant, "self-entitled" criminals who live off the hard earned tax dollars squeezed from hard-working, honest, salt-of-the-earth, red-blooded Americans. I have known some of "those people," and yes, they sometimes made bad choices, but they also worked to improve their lives. Like my cousin who ran away at sixteen and returned, pregnant, without a high school degree. She was on welfare and food stamps. She also got a GED and learned to drive and found a job...which was eliminated by budget cuts. After floundering for some time, she found work again, and even love. Then died young of a horrible autoimmune disease. Or the couple who worked abroad to teach English as a second language to pay off their school debts, then returned to America and could not find jobs. The wife returned to school for an advanced degree. She graduated after the economy tanked and still could not find work in her area. They relied on WIC when their child was born. They have lived in poverty their entire marriage, the woman working for ETS and online tutoring. Stephanie Land had dreams, hoping some day to go to college. Her parents had split up, her mom's husband resentful and her dad broke because of the recession. She was self-supporting when she became pregnant. When she decided to keep her baby her boyfriend became abusive. She was driven to take her daughter and leave him. And so began her descent into the world of homelessness, poverty, the red-tape web of government programs. She worked as a maid, even though she suffered from a pinched nerve and back pain and allergies. The pay was miserable, her travel expenses uncovered. She found housing that was inadequate, unsafe, and unhealthy. Black mold kept her daughter perpetually sick with sinus and ear infections. I know about that. Our infant son was ill most of the year with allergies, sinus infections, ad ear infections. It made him fussy and overactive and every time he was sick it made his development lag. We were lucky. We could address the environmental causes. We found a specialist who treated him throughout his childhood. Maid is Stephanie Land's story of those years when she struggled to provide for her daughter. She documents how hard it is to obtain assistance and even the knowledge of what aid is available, the everlasting exhaustion of having to work full time, taking her daughter to and from daycare, and raise her child on a razor-thin budget. All while cleaning the large homes of strangers. And that is the other side of the book, the people who hire help at less than minimum wage, some who show consideration and others who like her invisible. How a maid knows more about her clients than they can imagine. Land worked hard. Really hard. She had to. Finally, she was able to go to school and write this book. She crawled out of the mire. What is amazing is that anyone can escape poverty. You earn a few dollars more and you lose benefits. Land is an excellent writer. She created scenes that broke my heart, such as when her mother and her new husband come to help Land move. Her mom suggests they go out to lunch, then expects Land to pay for the meal. Land had $10 left until the end of the month. Even knowing this, they accepted it. Then, her mom's husband complained Land acted 'entitled'. I was so angry! I felt heartbroken that Land and her daughter were shown so little charity. I think about the Universal Basic Income idea that I have read about. How if Land received $1,000 a month she would have been able to provide her daughter with quality daycare or healthy housing. She would have been able to spend more time on her degree and work fewer weekends. She would have been off government assistance years sooner. But that's not how the system works. Because we don't trust poor people to do the right thing. We don't trust them to want to have a better life. We don't believe they are willing to work hard--work at all. Remember The Ghost of Christmas Present who shows Scrooge the children hiding under his robes, Ignorance and Want? We have the power to end ignorance and want. We choose not to. Instead, we tell people to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, even when they are without shoes. That's my rant. Yes, progressive liberal stuff. But also in the spirit of the Christ who told us that if we have two shirts, give one to the poor. The Christ who said not to judge other's faults and ignore your larger ones--judging being the larger one. The Christ who taught mercy to strangers. Perhaps Land's memoir will make people take a second look at mothers on assistance. Under the cinders is a princess striving to blossom. I received a free ebook from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jenna

    When I saw this book described as "Evicted meets Nickel and Dimed", I knew I had to read it. They are two terrific books in my opinion. I can't say Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive was as good as those but I still enjoyed it. Stephanie Land became homeless when she decided to take her young child and leave an abusive relationship. The book narrates her struggles to rise out of poverty and provide a decent life for her daughter. She details the feelings of shame and inadeq When I saw this book described as "Evicted meets Nickel and Dimed", I knew I had to read it. They are two terrific books in my opinion. I can't say Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive was as good as those but I still enjoyed it. Stephanie Land became homeless when she decided to take her young child and leave an abusive relationship. The book narrates her struggles to rise out of poverty and provide a decent life for her daughter. She details the feelings of shame and inadequacy and fear she experienced. She found work as a maid but as she was paid only $9 an hour, she could hardly afford rent let alone anything else. She tells of navigating through the public welfare system in search of housing and food assistance and the condescending way some people would treat her when they saw her using the EBT card (food stamps) or WIC checks. She relates her feelings of loneliness and her longing for a better life, of her dreams to go to college and become a writer. She writes honestly of mistakes she made. ​I felt frustrated with and for her and angered by the system in the US which keeps people down, which makes it so hard for people to rise out of poverty. Because Ms. Land had been raised in a middle class home, she knew there was another life to be had. This gave her hope she otherwise might not have had and helped her stick to her dreams in spite of the battles she faced in order to reach them. As she notes, "​When a person is too deep in systemic poverty, there is no upward trajectory. Life is struggle and nothing else. But for me, many of my decisions came from an assumption that things would, eventually, start to improve." ​Ms. Land was able to eventually enroll in community college and she often went without enough sleep in order to study and do homework after a long day spent scrubbing other people's houses. In between telling of her personal struggles, Stephanie Land shares her thoughts of the people's homes she cleaned. At times I thought this added to the book, and at others felt it took away and placed too much focus on other people's lives. I guess it was about Ms. Land's life too though, as she spent time cleaning up after these people and getting to know them through their homes. Whilst I didn't learn much with this memoir, it was still worth reading. It's very well written and held my interest throughout. At times I felt like I was peeking in the windows of people's houses -- and sometimes getting too much of a look, yuk! Being a maid is not a job many of us would enjoy -- it is strenuous labour and often disgusting. We owe those women and men who work as maids a great deal of respect but instead they are often looked down upon. This is a good book to read to remind us that they too are people, and very hard-working. For some reason in this country, the people with the lowest paid jobs are often the ones that are the most difficult, and the ones which we look down on the most. Hopefully this book will change the way people think of those who do the jobs none of us want to but someone has to do.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    In “Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive” debut author Stephanie Land narrates her drastic and desperate story of survival as a single mother raising her daughter in Washington state—the home of Amazon, Boeing, Microsoft and Starbucks. The “indolent poor” are often blamed for their condition: accused of draining tax dollars from government "entitlements" and paltry SNAP (Food Stamp) benefits that seldom (or minimally) cover a grocery bill. Wealthy policy makers debate mandato In “Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive” debut author Stephanie Land narrates her drastic and desperate story of survival as a single mother raising her daughter in Washington state—the home of Amazon, Boeing, Microsoft and Starbucks. The “indolent poor” are often blamed for their condition: accused of draining tax dollars from government "entitlements" and paltry SNAP (Food Stamp) benefits that seldom (or minimally) cover a grocery bill. Wealthy policy makers debate mandatory drug testing, work requirements and the ability of SNAP recipient’s to buy toilet paper and potato chips, as valuable tax breaks and additional public funding is increasingly allocated to the rich and corporate interests. • In a small inland community of Port Angeles, Washington Land’s small daughter Mia learned to walk in a homeless shelter. With an offer of assistance, Stephanie’s clueless mother arrived with her equally clueless husband to “help” her daughter and grandchild move into transitional housing; later expecting Stephanie to pay her “fair share” of their costly restaurant bill. Without family support it was easy to see how our young people enter the public system of despair with draconian measures that further marginalize and punish the working poor for their condition. It was utterly exhausting and demoralizing to be poor in Washington State. Stephanie required a total of seven programs to survive with Mia: Pell Grants, SNAP, TBRA, LIHEAP, WIC, Medicaid, and Childcare subsidizes. Too often, it was necessary to appear in person for interviews that required her to miss work and loose income from her low paying cleaning jobs. A car and all expenses associated with it were a requirement for this work. If a cleaning job didn’t meet a customer’s (unrealistic) expectations, Stephanie was required to “fix” the problem free of charge and at her own expense. Despite her physical ailments from hard labor and with the help of over the counter pain remedies she became a top rated sought after house cleaner. Stephanie worked for an agency and accepted independent assignments from customers as her professional reputation grew. A search for support and companionship led Stephanie to a small rural family farm. The country was a great environment for Mia, though eventually Stephanie couldn’t keep up with the demands of her cleaning business and a partner that demanded servitude keeping all mutually earned income for himself. Next, in the Skagit Valley, Mia and Stephanie lived in a black mold infested apartment, where Mia was constantly sick with a steady rotation through medical appointments. Due to lack of space, Stephanie was forced to sell or give-away all non-essential belongings including things her father had given her to pass down to her own children. The tiny apartment was all she could afford. In a campaign speech given by Ronald Reagan (1976-1980): national attention was turned to a Cadillac driving “Welfare Queen” fraudster that collected welfare payments. This claim was later proven false and a total myth, but the damage done (to the poor) with that statement has had lasting impacts on public opinion and policy. Land’s book is not a sob story, but rather a courageous story to rise above the harshness and brutality of poverty and discover a path towards success. Land graduated from the University of Montana earning a degree in English and Creative Writing (2014) and lives with her family in Missoula, Montana. ** With thanks and appreciation to Hachette Books via NetGalley for the DDC for the purpose of review.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Cassidy Green Krogulski

    I wanted to like this book. I was raised by a single mother with two kids after fleeing horrific abuse. We were on government assistance and food stamps, and I was on free or reduced lunch all the way through my adolescent years. My GED holding mother worked early mornings, late nights, and took every opportunity afforded to her. She worked as a waitress, at construction sites, as a water truck driver. Anything to support us. By every stretch of the imagination, I should have DEEPLY connected wit I wanted to like this book. I was raised by a single mother with two kids after fleeing horrific abuse. We were on government assistance and food stamps, and I was on free or reduced lunch all the way through my adolescent years. My GED holding mother worked early mornings, late nights, and took every opportunity afforded to her. She worked as a waitress, at construction sites, as a water truck driver. Anything to support us. By every stretch of the imagination, I should have DEEPLY connected with this book. Alas, I did not. Why? -Land never goes into the background of how she ended up as a 28 year old with no career path to speak of and then an accidental pregnancy. Considering the fact that I am currently 26, I find this baffling. How can she not at least briefly go over how she got to this point? She was an adult woman by the time she accidentally got pregnant with Mia. -She mentions tirelessly looking for jobs. At the same time, she continually describes how demeaning it is to clean homes. Why would she not look into other fields? Waitressing, bartending, retail, valet services, etc. I find it hard to believe that there were NO other jobs available to her. -Somehow every other person in her life is the problem. Every. Single. One. I am not one to victim blame, but I do believe that an immense amount of immaturity can lead to a victim complex. The easiest answer is usually the correct one. -Finally, the amount she judged others seemed to projected back onto them. Everyone was glaring at her, everyone was mean to her, everyone made her feel unworthy. It seems as though she was either passing these judgements herself, or perhaps she was, in fact, making bad decisions and others were taking note. All in all, poverty is hard. Motherhood is hard. But working 25 hours a week will never pay the bills, and using your student loan money to afford a vacation when your child is at home with an abuser is inexcusable.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Autumn

    Is this book supposed to be surprising? Eye-opening? It's by a lady who gets pregnant from an abusive relationship and then she has to clean houses and wrangle with government assistance programs to make ends meet. Like 1 million other ladies. I don't get it.

  24. 5 out of 5

    june3

    It took me awhile to figure out what troubled me so much about this book. Stay with me. Please understand that I'm politically quite far to the left of center. I believe that social services in the US are woefully, horribly inadequate. No one in the USA should wake up hungry or sick with nowhere to turn. While our country offers much in the way of opportunity, it is all too easy to crash and burn. Also, please understand also that I personally take nothing for granted. I wake up every morning in It took me awhile to figure out what troubled me so much about this book. Stay with me. Please understand that I'm politically quite far to the left of center. I believe that social services in the US are woefully, horribly inadequate. No one in the USA should wake up hungry or sick with nowhere to turn. While our country offers much in the way of opportunity, it is all too easy to crash and burn. Also, please understand also that I personally take nothing for granted. I wake up every morning in deep gratitude for the security I have managed to attain. I say a quiet prayer of hope to myself that all will continue in peace, and with calm and stability during the day to come. With this in mind - Ms. Land's book. While I am fortunate to be in the senior ranks at my workplace, there are many women who arrive each day who are employed in janitorial services. As in, they clean the toilets. Every day. Most of them are not Caucasian. Some of them do not speak English exceptionally well. They are probably never going to have the opportunity to write books about their experiences, which are probably more or less the same as Ms. Land's. If not worse. Ms. Land's writing is adequate to the task, but I was deeply troubled by her sense of outrage. Is it wrong that someone with limited skills and education should find herself employed in this fashion? Or is it just somehow wrong that an attractive young well-spoken Caucasian woman should find herself there? If any of the women in my workplace chose to write a book about cleaning toilets, would any be interested?

  25. 5 out of 5

    Dianne

    I really enjoyed this! If you read “Evicted” (highly recommend), this is along the same lines, but in a first person perspective on how difficult it is - damn near impossible - to break free from the cycle of poverty. Land is a single parent with no back-up support she can count on for financial or emotional support. She has dreams of being a writer, but dreams don’t pay the bills. Neither does cleaning other peoples’ houses, apparently. Land shares plenty of details on the houses she cleans and I really enjoyed this! If you read “Evicted” (highly recommend), this is along the same lines, but in a first person perspective on how difficult it is - damn near impossible - to break free from the cycle of poverty. Land is a single parent with no back-up support she can count on for financial or emotional support. She has dreams of being a writer, but dreams don’t pay the bills. Neither does cleaning other peoples’ houses, apparently. Land shares plenty of details on the houses she cleans and the “secrets” of their owners – no names, of course, but I felt like a bit of an uncomfortable voyeur at times. She also gets into the nitty-gritty of being a single parent, unable to afford the very basics of safe, decent housing, child care and nutritious food. I found it in equal measure fascinating and horrifying. Government assistance is truly a double-edged sword. Land makes lots of poor personal decisions, especially in her choices of romantic partners, but I still felt for her and rooted for her to achieve her goals. If you ever find yourself in a grocery line rolling your eyes at the person in front of you with food stamps or a WIC card, you might want to read this for an empathy check. Very well written; Land is a gifted writer and I’m happy to see her finally getting the recognition she has earned and deserves. Well done.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Stacy

    DNF on page 260, at 96% I tried really, really hard to finish the 2019 memoir, "Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive," by Stephanie Land. But I couldn't force myself to read the final chapter. I just hated this book too much, and the idea of reading another page brought me agony. I wish I had never heard of this book. I certainly wish I had never paid full price for a first edition hardback. I thought I was supporting a fellow woman who had grown up in poverty and found a way o DNF on page 260, at 96% I tried really, really hard to finish the 2019 memoir, "Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive," by Stephanie Land. But I couldn't force myself to read the final chapter. I just hated this book too much, and the idea of reading another page brought me agony. I wish I had never heard of this book. I certainly wish I had never paid full price for a first edition hardback. I thought I was supporting a fellow woman who had grown up in poverty and found a way out, the same way I did. But no, that is not this memoir at all. This book is advertised as "social criticism." It is not. This book is compared to "Nickel and Dimed" and "Evicted." This memoir is nothing like those nonfiction titles. I learned nothing about society from reading this book; all that was offered up for me to learn about in this memoir was the personal life of the author. Stephanie Land was born in 1978, and she grew up in the middle class. At age 18, she could have gone to college. She chose not to. She shredded her college applications and chose to live life as a free spirit, working as a barista and bartender, enjoying her life and smoking a lot of pot. For the next decade, her life was a party. By age 28, she was living with a guy who had already made it clear that he didn't want children. Ms. Land accidentally got pregnant; her birth control failed. Ms. Land was very excited to have a baby, and she thought that her boyfriend might change his mind about kids and be excited, too. Ms. Land hoped they could be a happy family together and leave their free-spirit lifestyles behind. They could buy a house and become part of the middle class. Her boyfriend, however, did not change his mind about wanting children. He reacted to the news with absolute rage, including physical violence, the details of which are only briefly mentioned in this book. Ms. Land stayed with him for a long time after his abuse began, hoping he would change his mind and give her a big diamond ring and a safe home for their family, and be a loving father to their child. Instead of getting a ring, Ms. Land finally had to flee this man's abuse, and because she could only receive free daycare during "mom hours" (as she has stated in interviews), she could no longer work as a barista or as a bartender. She found work as a maid, making very low wages, and she learned how extremely difficult life is when you are a single mother raising a child in poverty. Ms. Land does not reflect on her own choices at all, or how her own choices put her into this situation. At every turn, she expresses shock, bafflement, and irritation that she doesn't have the middle class lifestyle she expected to have as a mother, and she blames other people for her suffering: primarily, her lack of a financial safety net in the form of her family. Her family members are all either broke, barely scraping by, or married to people who refuse to give Ms. Land any money. It is clear that Ms. Land feels entitled to financial help from her family, and resents her family for not helping her. Ms. Land also resents society at large for not doing more for her, and frequently complains about the red tape of government programs such as free daycare, free medical care, and applying for housing vouchers. At every turn, Ms. Land is given massive amounts of assistance as a single mother. This assistance eventually puts her through college and allows her to become "a spokeswoman for the poor" as a freelance writer, allowing her to stop working as a maid and become a full-time writer. Her memoir is not about expressing gratitude for any of the help she receives from government programs, but complaining about the help she is getting. Other reviewers have described the voice of this memoir as being "whiny" and "entitled." I would absolutely agree. Ms. Land does not reflect upon the patriarchy in this book, or why she believed she needed a diamond ring so badly from an abusive boyfriend, or why she assumed that her baby fever would put her into the middle class, or why she kept thinking that her abusive boyfriend would become a loving father. Her great woe in life is her lack of a financial safety net in her family, and the classism she faces as a single mother using government programs for the poor. In interviews, Ms. Land has stated that this memoir became possible after she went to college and wrote an essay that went viral, an essay I will link here -- https://www.vox.com/2015/7/16/8961799... The voice in that essay is ruthless and cutting. It is not the voice of a woman who sees herself as a victim. But in Ms. Land's memoir, her voice is that of a victim. Rather than being ruthless and cutting, Ms. Land projects innocence, naivete, and an incessant, almost breathless whine. She narrates her life story to present herself as blameless but still doomed to fail: "woe is me, I am a sweet and good person, I am an innocent victim who has done nothing wrong, it's not my fault that my boyfriend didn't want our baby, and then my family couldn't take care of me and my baby and they should have, my life is so hard and America is so cruel, I had to wait in line sometimes to receive government assistance, and then I had to write this memoir to teach everyone in America that it is really hard to be poor, because no one else knows this but me." The problem with "Maid" is that Ms. Land kept the scathing content in her essay about the homes she was cleaning, and continued to pass judgement on the people she cleaned for. But instead of being a middle-class person of agency who was passing judgement on her employers, Ms. Land's voice in "Maid" is one of an innocent victim of poverty, being cruelly debased by a classist society. Ms. Land's chosen combination of blameless victimhood and middle class entitlement, along with her continuing judgement against the middle class she feels she deserves to belong to, made this memoir an extremely unenjoyable and myopic read. Other reviewers have mentioned the author's white privilege and U.S. citizenship. I would also like to add that she is able-bodied, neurotypical, cisgender, heterosexual, and grew up in the middle class. If you are looking for a memoir that features analysis of what it is like to actually grow up in poverty or in the class just above poverty, this book will not help you. Please read "Hillbilly Elegy" instead. If you are looking for a book with actual social criticism, please read "Nickel and Dimed," "Evicted," "Methland," or any number of nonfiction titles about America's poor. This book is not about passing reforms to aid the poor in America, or showing solidarity with people in poverty. This memoir is about Stephanie Land defending herself from the classist judgements she suffered from her middle-class friends after she became a single mother in poverty. One star. Waste of money. Not recommended.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Julie Christine

    My mother once told me that her greatest fear was to end up homeless, a so-called "bag lady." I, a short-sighted, selfish teenager, just rolled my eyes, but even then the thought of her vulnerability chilled me. I'm older now that she was when she made this confession, and her fear has become mine. Because I have seen, and experienced first-hand, how one decision, one misstep, can cause the dominoes of disaster to fall around you. “I knew that at any moment, a breeze could come and blow me away. My mother once told me that her greatest fear was to end up homeless, a so-called "bag lady." I, a short-sighted, selfish teenager, just rolled my eyes, but even then the thought of her vulnerability chilled me. I'm older now that she was when she made this confession, and her fear has become mine. Because I have seen, and experienced first-hand, how one decision, one misstep, can cause the dominoes of disaster to fall around you. “I knew that at any moment, a breeze could come and blow me away.” Stephanie Land's heartfelt, somber memoir Maid chronicles several precarious years she spent as a young, single mother juggling low pay, back-breaking work, the surreal world of government "assistance", and the humiliation of being poor in the United States. Whatever frustration the reader might feel in Land's decision to carry out a pregnancy when she had no resources to raise a child fathered by a man she hardly knew I say, "there but for the grace of God go you." Income inequality is a crisis that the privileged can't, or more likely, won't see because it means admitting both their own biases ("the poor shouldn't breed") and their own vulnerabilities ("what if I lose everything? Who will take care of me?"). Asking that our government provide its citizens with a basic subsistence, including health care and a living wage, brands one as a socialist, a specious and ignorant label. Our nation's dubious claim to fame—the American Dream—is constructed on the backs of the invisible (the poor, migrants, people of color), not to mention "entitlement" programs that benefit the wealthy, including tax cuts and tax breaks, Medicare and Social Security, financial aid, infrastructure, retirement programs... We pretend that being wealthy is due to one's tenacity, ambition, skill and that being poor is due to the lack thereof. When we will realize that stability for our most vulnerable is a benefit to us all? “We lived, survived in careful imbalance. This was my unwitnessed existence, as I polished another’s to make theirs appear perfect.” The memoir centers around Land's experiences as a maid, an invisible presence in others' lives, witness to their vulnerabilities, bad habits, despair and secrets. Domestic service is thankless, disgusting, grueling work, but for a born storyteller, it offers tremendous insight into peoples' characters and their inner lives carried out within the supposed privacy of their homes. Unseen intimacies become the foundation for Land's authorial voice, and ironically provide her escape into a world she dreams of: a college education and career as a writer. Land does claw her way out, studying by night, online, for a college degree, and leaves a black mold-infected apartment in western Washington for the dry, high desert of Missoula, where she finds her place, and her voice. The greatest gift Land's very personal story and straight-forward voice offers is the shout-out-loud testimony of a woman stigmatized for being poor. Her memoir has touched a chord, or a nerve, in those privileged to be white, raised in middle-class America. There but for the grace of circumstance go we all. My mother cleaned houses, too — a vocation she entered shortly before my parents divorced, the best she could manage with a 10th grade education. She eventually earned her Master's degree—at one point she and I were attending university at the same time. Her success was a triumph of determination and hard work, pushed along by our years on food stamps, Medicare, and the mountain of student loans and credit card debt she incurred to make it all work. Sadly, mental illness would lay her low time and again. We have been estranged for many years and deep inside me is the fear that her worst nightmare will come true. A nightmare I still share. How quickly our sand castles can collapse and get washed away with one car accident, job loss, unintended pregnancy, medical bills, depression. If these possibilities don't trouble you, consider how very fortunate you are. An editorial quibble with Maid. I live in the town where this memoir opens and also know well the Skagit Valley where Stephanie moves after the birth of her daughter. Nowhere in these regions is the "ocean" visible. Admiralty Bay. Skagit Bay. Strait of Juan de Fuca. Puget Sound. Salish Sea. Yes, all of these. We are surrounded by bodies of water, but none is remotely the Pacific Ocean, 100 miles distant. I can't fathom why it was necessary to refer to these distinct bodies of water as "the ocean." Don't do that.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Mehrsa

    I had mixed feelings about this book. I liked the vivid accounts of what it was like to live in poverty. I think too few people understand that someone can be very hard working and do everything possible and still be poor. We judge people who are poor as bad people who make poor decisions when it's actually just luck and circumstances much of the time. The thing that bothered me about the account is that she does see herself as different than the regular poor and cannot believe that she is one o I had mixed feelings about this book. I liked the vivid accounts of what it was like to live in poverty. I think too few people understand that someone can be very hard working and do everything possible and still be poor. We judge people who are poor as bad people who make poor decisions when it's actually just luck and circumstances much of the time. The thing that bothered me about the account is that she does see herself as different than the regular poor and cannot believe that she is one of those people. And the book and the way it's marketed has that quality as well. It's sort of like poverty porn, which I think is a new weird genre. voyeurism by the middle class into the lives of the down and out. Better if it's "one of us" who can come back and tell us about it. Stephanie is white, pretty, and a good writer. She is not the vision of a poor person. So this book is a good memoir of one life, but there is no class or race consciousness here. In fact, it may actually hurt the cause a bit.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Darlene

    "If you're rich, you might want to stay that way. It's a whole lot cheaper than being poor." -Barbara Ehrenreich " But shame is a verb as well as a noun. Almost nobody arrives at shame on their own: there are shamers and shamees...... In fact, it may be wiser to think of shame as a relationship rather than just a feeling-- a relationship of domination in which the mocking judgments of the dominant are internalized by the dominated. Shaming can be a more effective means of social control than "If you're rich, you might want to stay that way. It's a whole lot cheaper than being poor." -Barbara Ehrenreich " But shame is a verb as well as a noun. Almost nobody arrives at shame on their own: there are shamers and shamees...... In fact, it may be wiser to think of shame as a relationship rather than just a feeling-- a relationship of domination in which the mocking judgments of the dominant are internalized by the dominated. Shaming can be a more effective means of social control than force....." -Barbara Ehrenreich ('This Land is Their Land: Reports from a Divided Nation') This memoir, 'Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay and a Mother's Will to Survive' by Stephanie Land, began as an article she wrote for 'Vox' in 2015. The foreward in this memoir was contributed by Barbara Ehrenreich, the author of 'Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America', which was published in 2002. I suggest that both 'Maid' and 'Nickel and Dimed' be read as companions as they tackle similar themes. Interestingly, Barbara Ehrenreich founded the Economic Hardship Reporting Project, an organization which commissions journalists from across the United States to lend their own voices to stories from their communities.... personal stories which she hopes will inspire the country to think and talk about poverty and economic insecurity in a different way. Stephanie Land's book, 'Maid' is one of those personal stories and is a reason I found this book so powerful. It has been common and popular for journalists to traditionally spend months..and even years... going 'undercover' researching a particular segment of society or a certain topic of sociological value. 'Nickel and Dimed' is an example of this type of investigative journalism. 'Maid' is unique in that it is a first-person account of what it means and how it feels to be a single mother in the United States, working full-time as a house cleaner, receiving government benefits (such as food stamps) and still barely getting by. Stephanie Land offers no opinions about public policy or suggestions for how laws could be improved.She simply tells her story..... Stephanie Land begins her memoir describing her move (along with her young daughter, Mia) from a homeless shelter into what's called transitional housing... temporary housing set up to assist people who perhaps deal with chronic homelessness or, as in Ms. Land's case, victims of domestic violence. Ms. Land describes her tumultuous relationship with her daughter's father... their unplanned pregnancy, his reluctance to be a father and the escalating violence which culminated in her running from their home with her daughter, leaving virtually everything behind. Sadly, Stephanie Land is one of many people in society who have no social support system... no family or fronds she could turn to for assistance. When she discussed her upbringing, I was left with the sense that although she had not grown up in poverty, her parents had always been far from supportive and rarely provided guidance. In fact, her parents had divorced and both had remarried and she had been left mostly on her own to figure out how to make her way in the world. There is a scene she describes which involves and interaction with her mother and her mother's husband which I found not only astonishing in the total lack of insight described but also very telling about the relationship between Stephanie Land and her mother. Her mother, who had moved out of the country with her husband, returned to Washington state to 'help' Stephanie mover her belongings from the homeless shelter into transitional housing. When thinking about this aspect of the story, I was baffled. Her daughter had been living in a homeless shelter... how many possessions could she possibly have needed to move? At the end of that moving day, her mother invited her to go out to a local restaurant for a burger. When the meal was over, her mother and step-father tallied her portion of the bill, clearly (and inexplicably) expecting her to pay her share. Had they not realized she had been living in a HOMELESS shelter? Eventually, Stephanie Land begins making a living as a house cleaner for wealthier people in the Skagit Valley of Washington state. She obtains a studio apartment with Tenant Based Rental Assistance and Mia attends daycare part-time and stays with her father part of the time. She receives food 'stamps' and WIC checks (Women, Infants and Children nutrition program) which help her feed her daughter and herself. But despite all of these efforts, she is still struggling to stay afloat. What's more, her apartment is contaminated with mold and Mia begins suffering from chronic sinus infections. Stephanie Land writes candidly about her feelings and her fears... her anxiety over Mia's health and whether she will be able to find another affordable apartment that won't be hazardous to their health. She worries and obsesses over her tight budget and whether she will be able make her meager earnings and food assistance last until the end of the month. And no matter how she might be feeling, she knows she can never miss work. The only aspect of this memoir that I didn't find compelling (and the reason I assigned the book 4 stars) is that I felt Ms. Land began spending too much time talking about the people whose homes she cleaned and the things she discovered while cleaning those homes.... she began referring to those homes as 'the sad house' and 'the porn house', for example and I felt as if these descriptions detracted from the power of her own personal story. Perhaps she was simply trying to demonstrate that wealth is no protection from unhappiness and struggle... but I don't feel this worked as part of her memoir. This book is, at times, harrowing to read because Stephanie Land's entire world feels so precarious and I know the stress and anxiety that can cause. What moved... and disgusted... me most about this book was her feelings about the stigma she had experienced. She wrote openly and often about the shame and embarrassment she felt about being poor.. the humiliation she had experienced while using food stamps to pay for her groceries. She describes being in a checkout line and using her food stamps, when an older man began yelling, "you're welcome' at her... apparently wanting her to know that he didn't approve of HIS tax dollars being used to purchase her food. Reading this, I couldn't help but wonder if this same man would have shouted, "you're welcome' to the face of the CEO of Boeing, for example, as that is one (of many) corporations who receive taxpayer dollars (corporate 'welfare') in the form of subsidies... somehow I doubt it. Although Stephanie Land never mentions public policies regarding poverty; nor does she cite any statistics about poverty.... as a reader, I couldn't help but think about public policies that are in place to provide assistance for people struggling with poverty.... food and income insecurity and from what I know, this is an area in which we are seriously lacking. This memoir allows the reader,( especially those who have never experienced poverty), to walk in Stephanie Land's shoes and feel the crushing weight of her anxiety and fear.... but also the tentative hopes for the her future.. and her daughter's future... which she hold close to her heart. Yet.. all I could think was that being poor is not for the faint-of-heart.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Valerity (Val)

    Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive Stephanie Land didn’t have it easy.  She was a single mom who worked hard cleaning other people’s houses, working in their yards, doing whatever she had to in order to feed herself and her daughter, Mia. This was after she found herself homeless when the father of her daughter kicked them out. It’s not like she felt she could ask her folks for help, no way. She found that government help for housing wasn’t easy to stomach, left them with no Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive Stephanie Land didn’t have it easy.  She was a single mom who worked hard cleaning other people’s houses, working in their yards, doing whatever she had to in order to feed herself and her daughter, Mia. This was after she found herself homeless when the father of her daughter kicked them out. It’s not like she felt she could ask her folks for help, no way. She found that government help for housing wasn’t easy to stomach, left them with no privacy and was very stressful. So she fought hard to avoid ever being in that position again if she could help it. When she found herself suddenly homeless again a couple of years later after a breakup with a year-long boyfriend and he gave her a month to move out, she refused to go back to a shelter. She was trying so hard to get ahead, taking classes online, studying at night when her daughter slept, trying to get a degree. With the help of friends this time, Stephanie managed to move them into a tiny studio apartment and stored much of their things and worked harder than ever to stay afloat. There were times she drank coffee to help with the hunger pains, and there were times she had to go a couple of weeks without coffee even. This book is very readable, though not easy topics, it moves well. I found it a very interesting record of what Stephanie went through during that time in her life as she did what she had to in order to get by for her and her daughter.  She’s very strong and put up with a lot. It had to be terribly hard without any family help all that time, and no support system to speak of much of the time. You could really feel for her, the loneliness and aching as she slogged along wanting a better life. My thanks for the advance electronic copy that was provided by NetGalley, author Stephanie Land, and the publisher for my fair review. Publisher: Hachette Books  288 pages Publication: Jan 22nd, 2019 My BookZone blog: https://wordpress.com/post/bookblog20...

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