Scratch Beginnings: Me, $25, and the Search for the American Dream

Scratch Beginnings: Me, $25, and the Search for the American Dream

4.0 35
by Adam W. Shepard
     
 

ISBN-10: 0061714364

ISBN-13: 9780061714368

Pub. Date: 10/14/2008

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers

Adam Shepard graduated from college in the summer of 2006 feeling disillusioned by the apathy he saw around him and incensed after reading Barbara Ehrenreich's famous works Nickel and Dimed and Bait and Switch—books that gave him a feeling of hopelessness over the state of the working class in America. Eager to see if he could make something out

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Overview

Adam Shepard graduated from college in the summer of 2006 feeling disillusioned by the apathy he saw around him and incensed after reading Barbara Ehrenreich's famous works Nickel and Dimed and Bait and Switch—books that gave him a feeling of hopelessness over the state of the working class in America. Eager to see if he could make something out of nothing, he set out to prove wrong Ehrenreich's theory that those who start at the bottom stay at the bottom, and to see if the American Dream can still be a reality.

Shepard's plan was simple. Carrying only a sleeping bag, the clothes on his back, and $25 in cash, and restricted from using previous contacts or relying on his college education, he set out for a randomly selected city with one objective: work his way out of homelessness and into a life that would give him the opportunity for success. His goal was to have, after one year, $2,500, a working automobile, and a furnished apartment.

But from the start, things didn't go as smoothly as Shepard had planned. Working his way up from a Charleston, South Carolina homeless shelter proved to be more difficult than he anticipated, with pressure to take low-paying, exploitive jobs from labor companies, and a job market that didn't respond with enthusiasm to homeless applicants. Shepard even began donating plasma to make fast cash. To his surprise, he found himself depending most on fellow shelter residents for inspiration and advice.

Earnest, passionate, and hard to put down, Scratch Beginnings is a story that will not only inspire readers, but will also remind them that success can come to anyone who is willing to work hard—and that America is still one of the most hopeful and inspiring countries in the world.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061714368
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
10/14/2008
Pages:
240
Sales rank:
1,169,444
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)

Table of Contents

Introduction: July 24–Setting Up

Chapter One: Welcome to Crisis Ministries

Chapter Two: EasyLabor

Chapter Three: Another Day, Another Dollar

Chapter Four: Big Babies

Chapter Five: Sundays with George

Chapter Six: Hustle Time

Chapter Seven: Job Hunting 101 with Professor Phil Coleman

Chapter Eight: Put Up or Shut Up

Chapter Nine: "First and Last Day"

Chapter Ten: Adventure in Moving

Chapter Eleven: Movin' On Up

Chapter Twelve: Workers' Consternation

Chapter Thirteen: Winter with Bubble Gum

Chapter Fourteen: Culture Shocked

Chapter Fifteen: Fighting for Respect

Chapter Sixteen: One Last Move

Epilogue: A Year later: A Didactic Look at What I Learned and Where We Go from Here

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4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 35 reviews.
Roy_Young More than 1 year ago
I thought this was a great book that demonstrates what can be accomplished with hard work, determination and clear goals. I am planning on buying copies for my nieces and nephews who are currently in college or about to start. There is a lot of negativity these days about the American Dream being dead. I think this book demonstrates that while the road isn't easy, it is still very possible to start with virtually nothing and make something of yourself. While the author clearly had the advantage of an education,although he didn't claim to have a degree in his job search, he still had the benefit of the decision making skills an education brings with it that others in his predicament may not have. What Adam Shepard was able to accomplish in a mere 365 days starting with nothing is an inspiration for anyone who is starting off well ahead of where Adam was when he started his project.
smsnow1 More than 1 year ago
Okay, first off, this book is suchhhhhh an easy read. It will give you a different outlook toward the homeless and poverty-stricken with a glimpse into their everyday lives. There's nothing TOO crazy or many wild stories in the book, but it is 100% REAL and so unique. I would recommend it to absolutely anyone, either as just an eye-opener or a means to confirm people's dreams. So I know he is not an author, just a guy with a story to tell. But I hate how he tends to 'ruin the surprise' alot. There is not much suspense on what will happen to him; he usually gives it away beforehand. But the stories are still really unique nonetheless. I hate how he never tells you people's race or descriptions of their appearances. His attempt at political correctness (I'm assuming) makes it so much harder to really visualize the characters. I also wish we could have known more, or ANYTHING really, about Mickey. I mean, he lived in his house for 2 months, and he never once even mentioned him. Now to go a little deeper into the social science aspect of it, I have to say that I don't completely agree with his 'steps' for appeasing the cycle of poverty that he discusses in the epilogue. I do, however, admire his passion and concern for this epidemic. In my opinon, you can fund programs and preach and teach all you want, but what has to happen is people have to quit being so apathetic and have a completely different attitude and work ethic. Once people do get a more positive and productive attitude, then maybe these resources will be able to help them. But they have to help themselves first!! Okay, I don't want to get all political in a book review, but contrary to what he thinks, that is NOT the government's place. Like I said, I would recommend this book to ANYONE I know, so go out and get it! This is probably the only book I have ever read that I think every person in America at any age could appreciate.
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Robert Berquist More than 1 year ago
Reviewing this book is difficult. Taking on this project was quite brave. What Shepard accomplishes is amazing. But we're not reviewing his journey, we're reviewing his book. Right at the beginning, Shepard makes sure we all know he's not a writer. Sorry man, you're writing a book. I will judge you as a writer and an author. The entire book reads like a blog instead of a novel. Often times, Shepard will go off on a random tangent in the middle of a chapter, and he never really comes back to where it started. It seems like he has too many ideas and lacks the writing skill to put them all on paper. As far as his project, I don't think it necessarily disproves Bait and Switch. The author shows that with hard work, you can claw your way out of homelessness. With hard work, Shepard work his way UP TO poverty, not out of poverty. At the end of the journey, he was working a dead end job slinging boxes and had some money in savings. I fail to see how he planned to actually work out of poverty and into middle class. He didn't lay out any plans or strategies. He simply says "I have a crappy job with no opportunity for improvement and some cash in the bank". I give respect to Shepard for what he accomplished. However, he writes as if he's blogging his project instead of writing a book. I think he makes some sweeping conclusions that are incorrect. But he does show that with hard work, the homeless don't really have to be homeless.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
AmblerJP More than 1 year ago
An enjoyable and an interesting insight into a world I hope never to be part of. Shepard does a solid job of investigating what it takes to start from scratch in the US. Not overly political (like "Nickle and Dimed" is), just a look at one person's experience with arriving into a strange town with very limited resources, and the process to get started with a new life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Sromero15 More than 1 year ago
This book is about more than a man and his goal to see if it is possible to live the American Dream, it is about the willpower we all have inside of us to be, do, or have anything we want in life. Everyone has a goal or aspiration; whether it would be losing weight, quitting smoking or just making an effort to save a penny here and there. We also, all have a choice of whether or not we are willing to put in the effort into accomplishing our ambitions. What Scratch Beginnings: Me, $25, and the Search for the American Dream by Adam Shepard has proven to me is that EVERYONE is capable of pursuing and successfully accomplishing their goals no matter how big nor small they may be. Shepard, through his year-long project of trying to work his way out of homelessness, could possibly work as an inspiration to those who have 'thrown the towel in' and are certain that there is no way of succeeding. The men that Shepard meets (Marcos, Phil Coleman, Easy E, etc.) are truly personified examples of dedication proven by their aim toward escaping the grasp of hardship and onto the solid ground of social and economic stability. I enjoyed the fact that he shared each of these men's stories throughout Scratch Beginnings because it shows that the homeless are more than lazy and mindless, but most are goal-oriented and rational people who have been caught up in unfortunate circumstances. I definitely recommend that everyone reads this book no matter ones age, as long as he or she is willing to accept and learn that they are in charge of their own life (This book does contain profanity and suggestive material so only read it if you consider yourself mature). Overall, I liked the book because it definitely hit home. Making an effort to keep up with my education seems like nothing compared to the men and women who everyday struggle to live while on the streets, the people slaved to the needles and blunts that destroy all hopes for success, and the single-mothers strive to make the life of their children better than they had it. Scratch Beginnings has a lesson to teach everyone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
mnlakes More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the sample but the file had problems. It repeated several passages. This was confusing and annoying. I would like to read more but won't buy because of this.
MaxineRae More than 1 year ago
This book is awesome. It has changed my perspective on life so much, and I am only in high school. The best quote in the book that helped me come to this realization is: "no matter what life throws at you, you can take a hold of it and make something better out of it." Definitely read this book!!
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PhotoBySki More than 1 year ago
I picked this book up because Dave Ramsey recommended it. This is the story about how the American Dream is alive and well. I don't know if I could have done what Adam did. That took a lot of guts. Strange city with only $25 and the clothes on his back. This book was an interesting read to say the least. Once you start.you can't put the book down. I found myself cheering for Adam's success. It gave me hope that ANYONE can succeed in the United States of America! You are in control of your own destiny. You have a choice to make. Are you going to succeed or are you going to just follow the crowd? Make your choice. Get this book and be inspired!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
SadieDF More than 1 year ago
This is probably one of the best books ever. I wish I would have read this one after nickel and dimed in america. Adam Shepard had the guts to do it right when he set out to see what it would be like to start with nothing. I didnt want to put the book down, it had me laughing in parts of it and totally amazed in others. Really awesome job. More please!