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.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
After ending an abusive relationship, Stephanie Land struggles as a single mother to her young daughter, barely scraping by on public assistance programs and whatever odd jobs she can pick up. When she lands work cleaning houses, she gets a very intimate look at how the rich live—an experience that leaves her richer in experience only. Maid is Land’s story of living hand to mouth, picking up crumbs—literally and figuratively—out of love for her daughter. Land learns that people with money may live better, but they’re often pretty miserable. Her account of poverty, women’s work, and single parenthood is eye-opening and compelling.
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.
Customer ReviewsSee All
To me the book was whiney. Written by a member of the entitled generation. She talks about living at poverty level yet she’s been to Paris, graduated from college, had health care, had vehicles, and went on vacations. I don’t think she knows what poor really is. I grew up poor. And we weren’t even the poorest family in the neighborhood, and we all had it harder than this author. I know it’s not a contest. But I just couldn’t get the whiney tone out of my head. It was an okay ready. Not great, not awful, real whiney. Just my opinion.
This book was irritating....a 28 year old woman gets pregnant by an abusive man, continues to live with him, goes on public assistance, works her way to a decent living, gets lonely, starts living with another loser, repeats the same mistakes, all the while complaining about the system. Well written but the character was unsympathetic. My opinion, and everybody has one.
What a life. Good for you and your daughter and family for survival for tenacity and love.