Cover image for Maid : hard work, low pay, and a mother's will to survive
Title:
Maid : hard work, low pay, and a mother's will to survive
ISBN:
9780316505116
Personal Author:
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Hachette Books, 2019.

©2019
Physical Description:
xiv, 270 pages ; 24 cm
Contents:
The cabin -- The camper -- Transitional housing -- The Fairgrounds apartment -- Seven different kinds of government assistance -- The farm -- The last job on earth -- The porn house -- The move-out clean -- Henry's house -- The studio -- Minimalist -- Wendy's house -- The plant house -- The chef's house -- Donna's house -- In three years -- The sad house -- Lori's house -- "I don't know how you do it" -- The clown house -- Still life with Mia -- Do better -- The bay house -- The hardest worker -- The hoarder house -- We're home.
Summary:
A journalist describes the years she worked in low-paying domestic work under wealthy employers, contrasting the privileges of the upper-middle class to the realities of the overworked laborers supporting them.

Land's plans of breaking free from the roots of her hometown in the Pacific Northwest to chase her dreams were cut short when a summer fling turned into an unexpected pregnancy. She turned to housekeeping to make ends meet, took classes online to earn a college degree. And she wrote relentlessly: true stories of overworked and underpaid Americans; of living on food stamps and WIC coupons. Here she explores the underbelly of upper-middle class America and the reality of what it's like to be in service to them. -- adapted from jacket

"At 28, Stephanie Land's plans of breaking free from the roots of her hometown in the Pacific Northwest to chase her dreams of attending a university and becoming a writer, were cut short when a summer fling turned into an unplanned pregnancy. She turned to housekeeping to make ends meet, and, with a tenacious grip on her dream to provide her daughter the very best life possible, Stephanie worked days and took classes online to earn a college degree, and began to write relentlessly. She wrote the true stories that weren't being told: the stories of overworked and underpaid Americans. Of living on food stamps and WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) coupons to eat. Of the government programs that provided her housing, but that doubled as halfway houses. The aloof government employees who called her lucky for receiving assistance while she didn't feel lucky at all. She wrote to remember the fight, to eventually cut through the deep-rooted stigmas of the working poor. [This book] explores the secret underbelly of upper middle class Americans and the reality of what it's like to be in service to them. 'I'd become a nameless ghost,' Stephanie writes about her relationship with her clients, many of whom do not know her from any other cleaner, but who she learns plenty about. As she begins to discover more about her clients' lives--their sadness and love, too--she begins to find hope in her own path. Her compassionate, unflinching writing as a journalist gives voice to the 'servant' worker, and those pursuing the American Dream from below the poverty line. Maid is Stephanie's story, but it's not hers alone. It is an inspiring testament to the strength, determination, and ultimate triumph of the human spirit."--Dust jacket.
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Summary

Summary

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

Evicted meets Nickel and Dimed in Stephanie Land's memoir about working as a maid, a beautiful and gritty exploration of poverty in America. Includes a foreword by Barbara Ehrenreich.

At 28, Stephanie Land's plans of breaking free from the roots of her hometown in the Pacific Northwest to chase her dreams of attending a university and becoming a writer, were cut short when a summer fling turned into an unexpected pregnancy. She turned to housekeeping to make ends meet, and with a tenacious grip on her dream to provide her daughter the very best life possible, Stephanie worked days and took classes online to earn a college degree, and began to write relentlessly.

She wrote the true stories that weren't being told: the stories of overworked and underpaid Americans. Of living on food stamps and WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) coupons to eat. Of the government programs that provided her housing, but that doubled as halfway houses. The aloof government employees who called her lucky for receiving assistance while she didn't feel lucky at all. She wrote to remember the fight, to eventually cut through the deep-rooted stigmas of the working poor.

Maid explores the underbelly of upper-middle class America and the reality of what it's like to be in service to them. "I'd become a nameless ghost," Stephanie writes about her relationship with her clients, many of whom do not know her from any other cleaner, but who she learns plenty about. As she begins to discover more about her clients' lives-their sadness and love, too-she begins to find hope in her own path.

Her compassionate, unflinching writing as a journalist gives voice to the "servant" worker, and those pursuing the American Dream from below the poverty line. Maid is Stephanie's story, but it's not her alone. It is an inspiring testament to the strength, determination, and ultimate triumph of the human spirit.


Author Notes

Journalist Stephanie Land's work has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, Vox, Salon, and many other outlets. She focuses on social and economic justice as a writing fellow through both the Center for Community Change and the Economic Hardship Reporting Project. Her title's include Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive and A Confident Parent: A Pediatrician's Guide to Caring for Your Little One --Without Losing Your Joy, Your Mind, or Yourself.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

In her heartfelt and powerful debut memoir, Land describes the struggles she faced as a young single mother living in poverty. "My daughter learned to walk in a homeless shelter," she writes, before chronicling her difficult circumstances. Land got pregnant at 28, then left an abusive relationship and went on to raise her daughter, Mia, while working as a part-time house cleaner in Skagit Valley, Wash. Later, using public assistance, Land moved to a moldy studio apartment and got her daughter into daycare. While housecleaning, Land imagines the lives of the clients, whom she knows intimately through their habits and possessions (their apparent unhappiness despite financial comfort fosters compassion as well as gratitude for her own modest space), and experiences the humiliating stigma of being poor in America ("You're welcome!" a stranger snarls at the checkout as she pays with food stamps). Even while working, Land continued to follow her dream of becoming a writer. She began a journal and took online classes, and eventually attended the University of Montana in Missoula. Land's love for her daughter ("We were each other's moon and sun") shines brightly through the pages of this beautiful, uplifting story of resilience and survival. Agent: Jeff Kleinman, Folio Literary. (Jan.) c Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Booklist Review

Land's memoir of single motherhood and poverty gives a personal account of the factors influencing those issues. An unplanned pregnancy ends Land's dream of attending college in Missoula, Montana. An abusive boyfriend (soon to be ex-boyfriend), parents that aren't financially or emotionally able to be supportive, and a lack of a social network further conspire against her until she and her young daughter find themselves living in a homeless shelter. What follows is a series of woefully low-paying, back-breaking jobs; attempts to navigate complicated and inadequate government assistance; and scenes of public shaming for handouts." Land's honest writing, especially about her feelings of inadequacy, and her insights into the people whose homes she cleans are beyond engaging. Readers will understand working hard while simultaneously fearing that if one thing goes wrong, if one unplanned expense rears its ugly head, if one benefit doesn't come through, a delicate balance could be completely upended. For readers of Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed (2001), Matthew Desmond's Evicted (2016), and Sarah Smarsh's Heartland (2018).--Kathy Sexton Copyright 2018 Booklist


New York Review of Books Review

BLACK LEOPARD, RED WOLF, by Marlon James. (Riverhead, $30.) James, who calls his new epic fantasy an African "Game of Thrones," conjures the literary equivalent of a Marvel Comics universe in this novel (the first of a projected trilogy) about the search for a missing heir. THE DREAMERS, by Karen Thompson Walker. (Random House, $27.) In Walker's second novel, written with symphonic sweep and generous attention to parent-child relationships, panic spreads as swiftly as the sleeping sickness that's paralyzing a small California town. UNEXAMPLED COURAGE: The Blinding of Sgt. Isaac Woodard and the Awakening of President Harry S. Truman and Judge J. Waties Waring, by Richard Gergel. (Sarah Crichton/Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $27.) Gergel's riveting history examines a 1946 legal case that spurred the federal government to act in defense of racial equality at the dawn of the civil rights movement. MAID: Hard Work, Low Pay and a Mother's Will to Survive, by Stephanie Land. (Hachette, $27.) In her unstinting memoir - a portrait of working-class poverty in America - Land scrapes by on $9 an hour cleaning houses to support herself and her young daughter. THE UNWINDING OF THE MIRACLE: A Memoir of Life, m Death, and Everything That Comes After, by Julie gC"8 Yip-Williams. (Random House, $27.) Written before her 147 death last year from cancer at the age of 42, YipWilliams's book is a remarkable woman's moving exhortation to the living. AN INDEFINITE SENTENCE: A Personal History of Outlawed Love and Sex, by Siddharth Dube. (Atria, $28.) Dube, an activist for H.I.V. patients in India, here recounts growing up gay in a society that would not accept him. Confronted with the AIDS epidemic, Dube recognized its link to an "essential longing for sex and love, and with being outlawed, shamed and persecuted." THE BELL RANG, written and illustrated by James E. Ransome. (Atheneum, $17.99; ages 4 to 8.) Through the eyes of a slave, this picture book offers a bittersweet slice of plantation life in which innocence, familial love and safety are juxtaposed with pain, loss and the resilience of the enslaved. EINSTEIN'S SHADOW: A Black Hole, a Band of Astronomers, and the Quest to See the Unseeable, by Seth Fletcher. (Ecco/HarperCollins, $26.99.) What does a black hole look like? The scientists Fletcher profiles aim to produce the first real picture. THE ROOTS OF RAP: 16 Bars on the Pillars of Hip-Hop, by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Frank Morrison. (Little Bee, $18.99; ages 4 to 8.) Hip-hop's origins in jazz, poetry and urban culture come alive in this picture-book tribute. The full reviews of these and other recent books are on the web: nytimes.com/books