Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive - book cover
Politics & Government
  • Publisher : Legacy Lit; First Edition
  • Published : 22 Jan 2019
  • Pages : 288
  • ISBN-10 : 0316505110
  • ISBN-13 : 9780316505116
  • Language : English

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


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.

Editorial Reviews

"A single mother's personal, unflinching look at America's class divide, a description of the tightrope many families walk just to get by, and a reminder of the dignity of all work." President Barack Obama, "Obama's 2019 Summer Reading List"

-President Barack Obama, Summer Reading List (2019)

Readers Top Reviews

Whisky neighbour
I bought this because Barack Obama had recommended it. It’s an autobiography - a typical story of a single mum in the USA struggling with the inadequate benefit system. She isn’t that good an author and I lost interest in her plight. No real storyline just a series of struggles. If you wish to know how tough it is then read this book.
I have raised three sons on my own after my husband's early death so I was familiar with all of the situations the author found herself in. The loneliness and the sheer hard work and planning which goes on when you are the only parent. Hats off to the author for writing so knowledgeably and accurately about the many various aspects of finding suitable and time consuming operations in finding a career which covers the bills. At least I didn't a mean spirited and hateful character like her ex boyfriend to cope with. It's a pity she didn't disencumber herself of this psychic leech which sucked the joy out of her life. I'm hoping she will turn her back on the past with all its negativity. A good book well written.
This is a superbly-written account of Stephanie Land's eye-opening journey through the labyrinth of state 'support' via disappointment after disappointment, miserable privations and a work schedule that would floor most people, all the while giving her precious young daughter a degree of love and understanding that many of us would have envied in our own childhoods. There are incidents that will make you gasp in shock. Equally shocking is Ms. Land's discovery that 'the system' is calculated to prevent someone like herself from climbing up and out of her predicament; each time she earned a little bit more, a little bit of support was taken away, meaning that she was unable to save up enough, even by working, to improve her inadequate living conditions. No spoilers - read for yourself how thisa amazing woman eventually survives and thrives.....
Lina AltaTrinBoingbo
It's really rare that I take the time to write a review, but this book: I just can't. Unexplicably, the book is being hailed as a "must-read" and the author is being highly touted as some kind of heroine. (Spoiler alert: the only hero here is her literary agent, who apparently is able to spin straw into gold). The book is one long, dreary whine-fest. It's very creepy and disturbing how she writes about the private lives of her clients, things about their health, sex lives, etc. that are beyond personal. No doubt any of her former clients reading this book could easily recognize who she is referring to. And Ms. Land was in her late 20's when she got pregnant. She had about a decade to finish school and establish a career. She chose to raise a child knowing her ex was not really interested in being a father. After the ex does appear to establish a bond with his kid, she unilaterally decides to move to a different state. So much for that father-daughter relationship. Would love to hear his side of the story. And THEN she goes out and does it again, something that is completely glossed over in her book. So two kids with apparently no father in the picture. I think this book is a cautionary tale how not to make choices in life. Yes, she has some talent as a writer, for the vast majority of people in her shoes things would not have turned out well in the end. Umm, when you decide to raise a child with no committed, loving partner in the picture and no adequate resources of your own, it's not going to be easy. And water is wet and gravity causes things to fall down.