Kelly's Reviews > Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America

Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich
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's review
Jan 16, 08

Read in January, 2006

As someone who grew up as part of the "working poor," I have had all of these kinds of jobs myself at one time or another. Most of my family members still do. So for me, Nickel and Dimed was kind of a big "DUH." I mean, seriously, does any of this come as a surprise to anyone? Did anyone ever really think it was easy to make ends meet off of a low/minimum wage job? It's a preposterous idea.

In my opinion, Ehrenreich's writing has a patronizing undertone, and seeks to make the reader feel pity for the poor, helpless low-wage workers that she somehow manages to dehumanize in the process. It's not a very accurate portrayal of the ingenuity and strength that is takes for people to survive under these circumstances. I'm no fan of pity parties and I think it's a very one dimensional picture of the subject that she paints.

She also doesn't do much to analyze the broader issue and she doesn't offer any alternatives, solutions, or new ideas to deal with the problem.

It was kind of like she wrote the book out of her own bourgeoisie guilt or something and just wanted to give herself a big old pat on the back for understanding poor people.
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message 1: by Heather (new)

Heather I totally agree. I didn't even finish the book actually - just read it in B&N for a while one day. Almost every book written on the subject I've ever seen is similarly one dimensional - on one extreme or another.

Write us a good one Kel!

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