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Today’s review is of Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay and a Mother’s Will to Survive by Stephanie Land. This memoir was published in January 2019.
“My daughter learned to walk in a homeless shelter.”
While the gap between upper middle-class Americans and the working poor widens, grueling low-wage domestic and service work—primarily done by women—fuels the economic success of the wealthy. Stephanie Land worked for years as a maid, pulling long hours while struggling as a single mom to keep a roof over her daughter’s head. In Maid, she reveals the dark truth of what it takes to survive and thrive in today’s inequitable society.
While she worked hard to scratch her way out of poverty as a single parent, scrubbing the toilets of the wealthy, navigating domestic labor jobs, higher education, assisted housing, and a tangled web of government assistance, Stephanie wrote. She wrote the true stories that weren’t being told. The stories of overworked and underpaid Americans.
Reasons For Reading:
I enjoy narrative non-fiction. It’s an eye-opening way to read about different ways of life. I am also a sucker for a good underdog story, and often that is what these authors are writing. You know, the tales of those who conquer adversary, facing and rising above their challenges, and achieving their goals even beyond what is expected of them. All while proving the skeptics and doubts and negative naysayers who watch and critique from the sidelines wrong. Ultimately, they become champions. Maid seemed like just that type of story, while also shedding light on the hardships of life in the “servant” industry and the struggle of providing while living right on or below the poverty line in America.
Stephanie is admirable. I commend her for taking on the difficult role of single motherhood and for taking herself out of the unhealthy and abusive relationship that she had with Mia’s father. Neither of these choices could have been easy but she knew what she needed to do for her daughter. Stephanie lacked familial support, and that added extra stress as she truly had no one who she could lean on or ask for help.
Stephanie’s story is just one story of Americans who struggle to get ahead. I live in Canada and our government supports are different from the United States. But whether they are more or less, better or worse, I can’t be certain. This is because it is not something I have ever had to inquire about or rely on, luckily. However, I do think that there should be more help and handouts available. Whether it is in the form of assistance in paying for childcare, loans or grants for education and job improvement, or subsidized living arrangements, it doesn’t matter. Every bit helps.
Stephanie’s story opens your eyes to the “servant” industry. I think that cleaners and janitors are so often looked down upon in society. They are perceived as being uneducated and less than. I think that Stephanie’s story can help to change that perception. Stephanie is smart, hardworking, and self-less. She is doing the work that she can to support herself and her daughter, while also taking college courses. Cleaning other people’s homes is a means to an end. It is a job. She does not let it define who she is. That makes me proud.
Stephanie’s accomplished degree in Creative Writing & English is evident in her writing. It is an engaging story of a personal journey. I read this book as an audiobook and found that there was a wonderful flow and rhythm to the words. As I listened, I found that parts of her story were terrifying and hard to experience, even second hand. I want to thank Stephanie for sharing her story with the world. It has certainly opened my eyes and erased some pre-conceived (and incorrect) notions about those who live and struggle below the poverty line.
My Rating: (3 / 5) An enjoyable read.
For a full description of my rating system, please click here.
I’d Recommend Maid If You:
- enjoy reading narrative nonfiction
- are a sucker for a good underdog story
- have an interest in true stories from individuals who walk in different shoes than you in life