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Squeezed: Why Our Families Can't Afford America
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Squeezed: Why Our Families Can't Afford America

3.31  ·  Rating details ·  1,206 ratings  ·  226 reviews
One of TIME’s Best New Books to Read This Summer

“Brilliant—a keen, elegantly written, and scorching account of the American family today. Through vivid stories, sharp analysis and wit, Quart anatomizes the middle class’s fall while also offering solutions and hope.” 
   — Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed

Families today are squeezed on every side—from high child
ebook, 320 pages
Published June 26th 2018 by Ecco
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Cheryl It really doesn't offer solutions. Some "at large" suggestions that will require societal and governmental change. If you are a "Squeezee" it may…more It really doesn't offer solutions. Some "at large" suggestions that will require societal and governmental change. If you are a "Squeezee" it may just make you feel more hopeless. I think the book is most useful to explain the plight of squeezed families to those who think people should just be able to work themselves out of poverty. But, unfortunately most of them don't get it, and just don't care. The only thing it might do is serve to make you feel less alone, and help you to understand and internalize that where you are is not your fault. Lots of us did as we were advised and thought we made good choices. We aren't responsible for the landscape having changed. The book does bring this home.(less)

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3.31  · 
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 ·  1,206 ratings  ·  226 reviews

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Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
I looked forward to reading this book, because income inequality has become an important topic in America. I see firsthand the deterioration of the middle class, with professionals often working second jobs in the evening; families with two working parents struggling to pay for day care or patch together a network of relatives and friends to provide it because they can’t afford it at all; and people in their 20s and 30s held hostage to student debt or living with parents or roommates due to hous ...more
Dec 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
"The United States is the richest and also the most unequal country in the world." ~Alissa Quart, "Squeezed"

If you live in the U.S., you surely know that many families barely get by, can barely pay the rent and put food on their tables. In Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America, Barbara Ehrenreich wrote about the struggles of low-wage Americans. In Squeezed: Why Our Families Can't Afford America, Alissa Quart brings to light the issues middle-class Americans face, which aren't always
May 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rating: 3.5 stars

I’ve read several books that focus on the struggles faced by people living in poverty (such as Matthew Desmond’s Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City). I had not, however, read anything focused on the struggles of those in the middle class, so when I saw this book, I was eager to read it.

In Squeezed, Quart shares the difficulties faced by families, from the lower middle-class all the way up to the upper middle-class. Whether they are highly educated or not, each of t
Sarah Canfield
May 25, 2018 rated it liked it
3 stars for the educational value, 2 for the conclusions. The author is a journalist and knows how to tell a story. All of the real life people she interviews demonstrate clearly the challenge of living in our current economy where housing and rent/mortgages have been rising while wages have stagnated. She shows how this impacts people across the economic spectrum from those with low income to those with upper middle class income. I came away understanding why people feel squeezed. The challenge ...more
Jul 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult-nonfiction
A primary focus of this book seemed to me to be how very difficult and expensive it has become to have and raise kids in the USA today. She did talk about people who have lost jobs in midlife and their struggles to find another job; about the gig economy; about the rising cost of housing and education; and about automation. But she always circled back to the costs associated with having children and her own induction into the ranks of squeezed parents. She notes that care work is routinely deval ...more
A really thoughtful look at why it is the middle class is so frequently squeezed -- why we can't afford houses or luxuries that were once available to our parents and why it is we'll never be as well off as our parents were. It's about the value of many industries and how the value has declined; specifically, this book looks at things like child care work, teaching, and even law, and how those jobs which were once seen as important are now among the quickest disappearing, least paid, and most ne ...more
Jul 08, 2018 rated it it was ok
The difficulty in assessing this subject material is that it is clearly a pressing and urgent issue in today's society and family economics. I've asked the question hundreds of times, "how can the average family afford rent/mortgage, child care, and other essentials in today's America?" The answer: not easily, and not really.

Squeezed arrives at that conclusion quickly, and returns to it frequently. The differing motifs are a nice touch, but it was really difficult to get an idea of how the diffe
Christine Cunliffe
I had high hopes for this book having good content but instead it turned out to be more whining than I had hoped. I completely disagree with everytime the author mentioned that people shouldn't blame themselves for where they ended up. The fact that there is zero accountability assigned to the stories that are mentioned really downgraded the quality of this book. Save your money and check it out from your library.
Oct 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Very well researched book on why the average American can't get ahead and guess what? It has little to do with personal failings and everything to do with a system that is rigged against us.

Quart points out that what causes poverty is A) lack of affordable healthcare, B) lack of quality and affordable childcare, C) lack of affordable housing, D) expensive post graduate education and E) low wages. Dare to complain you're having problems making ends meet and society informs you that 'you just aren
Rachel León
Jul 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018, read-in-2018
There have been a few books out (Evicted, Nickel and Dimed, etc.) that look at poverty, but this book looks at the financial issues of the middle class. Quart examines problems of educated people who can't get a job--professors, teachers, lawyers, nurses--or who simply aren't making enough money, as well as the devaluation of care workers and families. At times the book doesn't quite delve into topics as deeply as I'd like, but overall it's a great comprehensive look at why so many Americans are ...more
Nov 27, 2018 rated it it was ok
This book. Oh boy. I don't even know where to start.

Maybe I should start with the good stuff? For all of its issues, Squeezed is so dang *readable*. Quart's background in long-form journalism really shines in each chapter, and she does a good job moving between fact and anecdote to keep the material interesting. While you'll find a big list of citations at the end of the book, you don't have to worry about this being an academic text.

And maybe that's ultimately the problem. Quart's thesis is o
Jan 16, 2019 rated it it was ok
Well that was depressing. It's a really important topic, but the organization and examples were unfocused. It also suffered from a very New York/West Coast myopia that made me want to scream! There's a whole chapter about the New York City school lottery which is an important topic to people living there, but completely irrelevant to most of the country. It was also an extremely pessimistic book short on solutions. Blegh.
Patricia Underwood

This book sums up what's wrong in America. People with non-marketable degrees, people who refuse to leave areas with high cost of living etc , yet chapter one already finds a way to blame those bad, bad republicans. Yeah all set here. I wanted an unbiased view but apparently that was too much to ask. Glad I didn't spend a dime of my hard earned money on this rag.
Donna Hines
Over educated and underpaid while being devalued without job security is at the nations core of the middle class.
Many of us are a step away from poverty if not already there and are struggling to survive while the motto goes around for the top 1% claiming to Make America Great Again but for who?
This book challenges the notion that America is not great with taxation being the main problem along with high childcare, no paid maternity/family leave, unattainable higher education programs/colleges do
Jul 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was kind of a scary and sad read.

Scary because it’s horrible that so many people are unemployed/underemployed at a time in life when they should be closer to retirement age. Sad because, according to this book, a lot of the same people are going back to school and going further into debt, and the result doesn’t always mean ending up with a well-paying job.

A lot of this book was focused on the struggles of parents, especially working women. As someone who is childfree I’m thankful about not
Jul 19, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: adult-nonfiction
Only a few chapters in, it was explained to me that these individuals deserve my sympathy not because they are on food stamps, nor because they are highly educated. They deserve my sympathy because they are on food stamps *despite* being highly educated. Ms. Quart lays out the theory that the pricey college and graduate degrees her subjects earned gave them more than a ton of debt; it gave them dreams, aspirations, and tastes. It gave them expectations of a good, middle class life, defined by mu ...more
Sep 16, 2018 rated it it was ok
Disappointingly at once repetitive and scattered. I think this would have functioned better as long form journalism, or an extended book, but the length was too short to be in-depth, and author came off repetitive at times. The chapter on TV shows was a strange inclusion in that it didn’t relate to the book at all, and I wasn’t familiar with most of the shows mentioned so it was further unengaging. I’ve read other books on similar topics that were much more effective (eg Evicted and The Unbankin ...more
Meaghan Lee
Sep 30, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2018
Some really fascinating statistics and information. Terribly, terribly written. My love of all things sociology is the only reason I could finish this book.
Helga Cohen
Nov 16, 2018 rated it liked it
This book gives a grim accounting of life in America today and income inequality. The author describes how the middle class is struggling to maintain their position in the economy. Many are working two jobs and many have advanced degrees and can’t get jobs. Some of them have advanced degrees in the humanities like English and can’t make enough teaching and some get law degrees that are expensive but worthless from for profit Universities which are a sham. Most of the jobs needed today though are ...more
Mar 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-club
This book will piss you off. The American middle class is struggling to keep a sustainable lifestyle, but the outlook is pretty bleak unless politics change dramatically. Here's why:

- Out of control housing costs in desirable cities because of wealthy people and Airbnb
- Daycare and healthcare costs
- Daycare becoming ever more necessary for working families
- Unpredictable work schedules (see daycare above)
- Universities not giving decent pay/hours/benefits to adjunct professors
- Automation of tas
Susan Bazzett-Griffith
Squeezed is a documentary style book, with chapters about various economic problems (childcare costs, rent costs, the deletion of tenured work in academia, etc) interspersed with personal stories of Americans trying to make it within this modern day gilded age of stagnant wages and massive inequality. While Quart offers some valuable insights, clearly has completed a lot of research and makes prescient points about the decline of the middle class and the treading water above poverty that so many ...more
Jan 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
Alissa Quart's book is interesting (in a generally-alarmed-for-society kind of way) as it looks at the ways that current trends are undercutting the middle class. She focuses particularly on housing, child care, and job trends, highlighting areas that are a struggle across a wide array of social groups. If her book has a weakness, it's that she keeps her eye fixed on urban and suburban areas (not surprisingly, since that's where most of the people/jobs/houses are). It just would have been good t ...more
Aug 06, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Basically, no matter what you do (get an education, work hard, yada yada) the deck is stacked against the 99% and there ain't NOTHING anyone can do about it!!
Cynthia Jeub
Oct 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018
The research in this book is dense, and for that it is a much-needed book. Quart's research is unfortunately less than groundbreaking however, and doesn't go far enough in exploring the ramifications of her findings. While the opening chapters pointed to an overarching sense that our financial failings are not our fault - they are symptomatic of a crumbling system - the end offered nothing revolutionary. I mostly gleaned from her research to help support my own, as her most shocking findings wer ...more
Dec 17, 2018 rated it it was ok
This book was poorly edited and organized; in addition, as a fairly well-read liberal, not a lot of new information was presented to me. I generally found myself more annoyed with the stories, rather than sympathetic. The one chapter that did engage me was on the nannies who come from other countries to care for others’ children, usually leaving their own behind in the care of grandparents. And I too worry about robots and AI contributing to unemployment, but the only solution presented was Univ ...more
Jul 21, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Not quite sure how I feel about this one. There were parts I found insightful, but also parts that make me wonder how the author didn’t trip over her own bias on the way to publication. Despite quotes like this, “She was not a self indulgent hipster mom with a breast-feeding-till-the-kid-is-three fetish,” meant to justify why being accommodated for breast-feeding/pumping as an airline pilot was not outrageous (like it should matter if she was), I finished reading the book. I’m quite surprised th ...more
Nov 13, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
I admit to skimming the chapters on the upper edge of the middle class and the lower edge of the upper classes: I have little sympathy for their temporary financial predicaments or their problems with lifestyle creep or keeping up with the Joneses.
Jul 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a book by a journalist of economic distress about the experiences of people trying to live in the traditional “middle class”. These people find that in critical parts of their lives, costs have escalated while middle class jobs have increasingly gone away to outsourcing, globalization, and automation while wages have been flat or declining since the 1980s. The result is considerable and distress as people cannot raise families into the life situations they knew and accepted as children a ...more
Mme LionHead
This book is written by an unapologetic socialist. Even though issues brought up in this book are undeniably relevant and pressing, the author's unabashed leftist voice unfortunately makes the book's content irritating and hard to digest. Personally, I always have conflicting views on social issues discussed in this book: affordable housing, livable wage, immigration, public school, accessibility of childcare, etc. What sets this book apart from many others is that the author focuses specificall ...more
Lots of stories about people who are struggling to make it financially despite doing the "right things" (getting advanced degrees, or working very hard and not wasting money), or because they have children. It talks about how teachers have to take second jobs moonlighting as Uber drivers, and how daycare is now needed 24 hours because of crazy work schedules. It follows a nanny from Paraguay who is struggling to raise her son, because her hours are so long and she has no time off to go to parent ...more
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Alissa Quart is the executive editor of the journalism non-profit Economic Hardship Reporting Project. She co-founded its current incarnation with Barbara Ehrenreich. She is also the author of four previous acclaimed books, “Branded,’’ “Republic of Outsiders,’’ “Hothouse Kids’’ and the poetry book “Monetized.’’ She writes the Outclassed column for The Guardian and has published features and report ...more
“It was also the suspicion that I was paying "rent" every time I went out for coffee or a walk, that there was no longer any public space to sit in, that a high charge was always associated with "hanging around"; once again I'd have to buy that unwanted second overpriced spice tea, or hand over another chunk of change for an hour at the indoor play space for my daughter.” 0 likes
“Caregiving also is the object of a more realistic critique, as some have noted the psychological toll of the profession. Scholar Arlie Hochschid...worries about the potential harm to workers who must sell the most intimate parts of themselves, manufacturing smiles and cuddles for low pay.” 0 likes
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