Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive by Stephanie Land
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Thank you to Netgalley for an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. I also saw this one come up as a selection for the Book of the Month club.
I do love a good memoir and Maid by Stephanie Land was definitely one that interested me. I had just finished Educated and I wanted something else along the lines of overcoming adversity when it feels like the world is conspiring against you.
This memoir follows the author's struggles to make ends meet as she raised her daughter on less than minimum wage jobs. The book covers the first few years of her daughter's life when they were living on government assistance.
Land is a natural storyteller and in going through this book we are treated to rich details about her life as a maid/housekeeper. With some memoirs, it can be easy to sit there and judge the author for the choices they made in the moment. Even though you don't know what you would do if presented with the same challenges, you find yourself saying "why didn't they just…"
To my point; I was explaining the book to someone and the responses were, "why didn't she go to her family for help" or "if she had chosen not to have her daughter, she would not have ended up in this situation in the first place". Those may or may not be valid critiques but since these aren't characters in a story, but real people…I'll avoid my own commentary on the subject.
Land takes us through the complicated process of obtaining government assistance and assistance from other means. It is a system that sets you up to fail. Multiple forms of assistance were needed merely to survive and keep herself and her daughter fed. Many times she had to depend on the kindness of those around her in order to keep a roof over their heads.
The only real critique that I have about the plotting of the story is how it ends. We don't actually find out how she managed to get to where she is now. She spends the entire book taking us through her life right up until the moment she creates a major change for herself. I would have liked to have known what happens when she gets to Missoula, MT.
Overall, I think this one is a great one to read if you're looking to better understand the lives of people on government assistance. It's definitely eye opening.
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