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.
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.
BARBARA EHRENREICH is the author of fourteen books, including the bestselling Nickel and Dimed and Bait and Switch. She lives in Virginia.
Table of Contents
Foreword Barbara Ehrenreich xi
1 The Cabin 3
2 The Camper 15
3 Transitional Housing 23
4 The Fairgrounds Apartment 33
5 Seven Different Kinds of Government Assistance 41
6 The Farm 54
7 The Last Job on Earth 64
8 The Porn House 73
9 The Move-Out Clean 81
10 Henry's House 96
11 The Studio 109
12 Minimalist 117
13 Wendy's House 125
14 The Plant House 133
15 The Chef's House 141
16 Donna's House 149
17 In Three Years 156
18 The Sad House 162
19 Lori's House 173
20 "I Don't Know How You Do It" 187
21 The Clown House 198
22 Still Life with Mia 210
23 Do Better 223
24 The Bay House 234
25 The Hardest Worker 241
26 The Hoarder House 248
27 We're Home 260
What People are Saying About This
#1 New York Times bestselling author of Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness - Susannah Cahalan
“Marry the evocative first person narrative of Educated with the kind of social criticism seen in Nickel and Dimed and you'll get a sense of the remarkable book you hold in your hands. In Maid, Stephanie Land, a gifted storyteller with an eye for details you'll never forget, exposes what it's like to exist in America as a single mother, working herself sick cleaning our dirty toilets, one missed paycheck away from destitution. It's a perspective we seldom see represented firsthand—and one we so desperately need right now. Timely, urgent, and unforgettable, this is memoir at its very best.”
New York Times bestselling author of Waiter Rant - Steve Dublanica
“Stephanie Land’s heartrending book, Maid, provides a trenchant reminder that something is amiss with the American Dream and gives voice to the millions of ‘working poor’ toiling in a country that needs them but doesn’t want to see them. A sad and hopeful tale of being on the outside looking in, the author makes us wonder how’d we fare scrubbing and vacuuming away the detritus of an affluence that always seems beyond reach.”
New York Times bestselling author of With or Without You - Domenica Ruta
"As a solo mom and former house cleaner, this brave book resonated with me on a very deep level. We live in a world where the solo mother is an incomplete story: adrift in the world without a partner, without support, without a grounding, centering (male) force. But women have been doing this since the dawn of time, and Stephanie Land is one of millions of solo moms forced to get blood from stone. She is at once an old and new kind of American hero. This memoir of resilience and love has never been more necessary.”
New York Times bestselling author of Bad Feminist and Hunger: A Memoir - Roxane Gay
“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… Land’s prose is vivid and engaging… [A] tightly-focused, well-written memoir… an incredibly worthwhile read.”
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