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

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  9,337 ratings  ·  1,533 reviews
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.

"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
Hardcover, First, 270 pages
Published January 22nd 2019 by Hachette Books
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Popular Answered Questions
Page Wouldn’t the 19 year old be best positioned to determine what’s right for him or her?
Liese Schwarz If you mean, does it demonstrate good morals, I would say yes. I think her story gives good examples of a strong work ethic and dedicated parenting.

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3.79  · 
Rating details
 ·  9,337 ratings  ·  1,533 reviews

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Jul 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book is going to garner a range of reactions when it’s published. What this book does well is illuminate the struggles of poverty and single-motherhood, the unrelenting frustration of having no safety net, the ways in which our society is systemically designed to keep impoverished people mired in poverty, the indignity of poverty by way of unmovable bureaucracy, and people’s lousy attitudes toward poor people. When she writes about her circumstances, Land’s prose is vivid and engaging. Her ...more
Nov 28, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
Stephanie Land didn’t experience the best start in life, well not when it comes down to the most important thing for a child - love. Neither parent seemed to have much of it to give, in fact they present themselves as extremely selfish individuals. Stephanie finds herself pregnant and in an abusive relationship, which should herald the end of her dreams of going to college, but this is one thing that she will try desperately to hang onto.

We accompany Stephanie and her daughter Mia, as they attem

fulfilling book riot's 2018 read harder challenge task #14: A book of social science

this one might be more memoir than social science, but it's ehrenreich-approved and that's good enough for me!!


okay, so i would say this is definitely more memoir than social science, but i went into it with good intentions, and it's too close to the end of the year* for me to be a stickler for reading challenge precision. if the bookriot police wanna
Diane S ☔
Oct 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Wish I could have climbed into these pages and given this young woman a hug! Nineteen pregnant, she leaves an abusive relationship. When her daughter is born she is a single mother with few resources and very little support. This is a honest, down to earth, telling of her story trying to manuver through a system that is stacked against her. She is a hard worker and takes the only job she can get, while still taking care of her daughter, and taking online classes in a effort to provide for a bett ...more
C.J. Maughan
Jan 17, 2019 rated it did not like it
Hooooooooo boy was this one frustrating. I almost gave up multiple times because it made me so angry, but let's just start at the beginning.

I got this from Book of the Month. On their description it wasn't exactly clear that this was a nonfiction read (they may have changed it since). So I had VERY different expectations upon opening this book up and was very disappointed to see that it was not fiction. But, hey, I'm cool, I like nonfiction and so I set that all aside and figured it would still
j e w e l s
Mar 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio

I saw Stephanie Land, the author, on my hometown local morning television show. I was struck by her sincerity, her soft voice, and her courage in “outing” herself as a single mother struggling to survive in poverty.

Land’s memoir begins with her unexpected pregnancy by a new boyfriend at age 28. The boyfriend is more than a jerk and Land gets away from him once he becomes violent. Without any family help that she could count on, Land lives with her baby daughter in a homeless shelter a
Feb 09, 2019 rated it it was ok

Going into this book, I so badly wanted to come out rooting for Stephanie Land, but I keep coming back to that quote above and cannot wrap my head around what should be “surprising” about her story. As a college educated woman who works for one of the largest companies in the world, if I worked 25 hours a week it would not be enough to pay my bills either. Is there a larger theme I’m missing that
Feb 03, 2019 rated it liked it
In Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive, we meet Stephanie Land, a single mom to her daughter, Mia, trying to keep a roof over their heads and maintain some form of stable life. This is easier said than done as Stephanie is met with numerous challenges including little support from her family, Mia’s father, and other relationships, as well as multiple jobs with low paying wages that rarely allow those performing them to get ahead.

A few years ago I read Evicted, which I reall
Jan 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
3+ stars

Maid has an important message and I have a lot of respect and sympathy for Stephanie Land, but I didn’t love reading her book. In her late 20s, Land found herself coming out of an abusive relationship as the single mother of a toddler. She had very few financial options, so she took what help she could from government assistance and started working as a maid. Her book is a memoir of the three or four years she struggled to support herself and her daughter before finding a way to get into
Linda Hutchinson
Jan 30, 2019 rated it it was ok
This won’t be popular but I found this book, “Maid,” supremely irritating. The pitch was whiny, judgmental, and jealous. This may come off as harsh but some life situations are made from bad choices. Some from just bad luck. But to begrudge anyone else a bit of happiness because your life is hard was just poor taste. I admire Stephanie Land’s work ethic...but, I didn’t think her writing was strong and the details were repetitious. There is a limit as to how many times I want to read an exhaustiv ...more
Jul 11, 2018 rated it it was ok
First, this book is most certainly NOT in the category of Evicted, one of the most well-researched, measured and thoughtful books published on the subject of chronic poverty in America.

I wanted to like this book, and feel that the subject matter is critically important to expose and discuss. Yet...I just didn't. There's a kind of immaturity about the book (and frankly, many of the author's actions) that grated, especially the flip-flopping between envy and judgment of the middle class families
Jan 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley, reviewed
In “Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive” debut author Stephanie Land narrates her drastic and desperate story of survival as a single mother raising her daughter in Washington state—the home of Amazon, Boeing, Microsoft and Starbucks. The “indolent poor” are often blamed for their condition: accused of draining tax dollars from government "entitlements" and paltry SNAP (Food Stamp) benefits that seldom (or minimally) cover a grocery bill. Wealthy policy makers debate mandato ...more
Jan 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
"Poverty was like a stagnant pool of mud that pulled at our feet and refused to let go." from Maid by Stephanie Land

I'll be brutally honest, and you can "unfollow" me if you want, I don't care, but ever since Presidents Roosevelt and Johnson created social programs to help the poor there have been politicians determined to slash, limit, and end them. And one of their methods is to vilify the poor as blood-sucking, lazy, ignorant, "self-entitled" criminals who live off the hard earned tax dollars
This is one book that I’ve grappled with in trying to write a review. There are a few conflicting impressions that I’ve turned over in my mind, causing me to question why I feel as I do about the story. I thought about just giving a glossed-over review, focusing only on what I appreciated (and there was a lot to appreciate) about this account of a young, single mother’s struggle to survive and raise her child. I wanted to be generous, but I finally decided to just write the review to include wha ...more
Jan 31, 2019 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Valerity (Val)
Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive

Stephanie Land didn’t have it easy.  She was a single mom who worked hard cleaning other people’s houses, working in their yards, doing whatever she had to in order to feed herself and her daughter, Mia. This was after she found herself homeless when the father of her daughter kicked them out. It’s not like she felt she could ask her folks for help, no way. She found that government help for housing wasn’t easy to stomach, left them with no
Jennifer Blankfein
Feb 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Maid is the story of one woman’s survival living below the poverty line and working hard to rise above and provide for her daughter. Follow Book Nation by Jen for all reviews and recommendations.

Everyone has a story and it is possible that Stephanie Land’s is not all that unique. That is the importance of her telling us about her job as a Maid, her strength and persistence to support herself and her daughter while bringing to light the challenges so many people living in poverty are faced with w
Is this book supposed to be surprising? Eye-opening? It's by a lady who gets pregnant from an abusive relationship and then she has to clean houses and wrangle with government assistance programs to make ends meet. Like 1 million other ladies. I don't get it.
Julie Christine
Apr 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
My mother once told me that her greatest fear was to end up homeless, a so-called "bag lady." I, a short-sighted, selfish teenager, just rolled my eyes, but even then the thought of her vulnerability chilled me.

I'm older now that she was when she made this confession, and her fear has become mine. Because I have seen, and experienced first-hand, how one decision, one misstep, can cause the dominoes of disaster to fall around you.

“I knew that at any moment, a breeze could come and blow me away.
Apr 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
What a beautifully told story despite so much of the bleakness and adversity it presents. I don't really know how to talk about Stephanie Land's story any better than she does in this book, but I can say that she is a fantastic writer and this is worth spending your time reading.
Aug 19, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: first-reads
*I won this book in a GoodReads Giveaway*

I really thought I was going to like this book. As someone who was raised by a bad a** single mother, who fought her way up in the world, I thought I would really relate to this story. It didn't happen.

Despite the seriousness of the topic - I just couldn't muster up much sympathy for her. Which seems insane. How could I not feel for her? Here's why:

"Living with illness or pain was part of my daily life. But why did my clients have these problems? It seeme
Kate Olson
Jan 28, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5 stars - audiobook format

I had been waiting for this book since I first read about it in the Publisher's Weekly announcements issue back in June 2018, and I preordered it from Audible. THAT'S how excited I was! "Nickel & Dimed" and "Evicted" are two of my favorite nonfiction reads, and I was somewhat expecting this to be in the same category. It's not, though, which I'm fine with, just surprised.

I was sucked into Stephanie's story and felt such compassion for her throughout the book - I w
Jan 26, 2019 rated it did not like it
This book is terrible. Where do I start? This is basically a book of a woman complaining "woe is me", throwing herself a pity party. She blames everyone else for her problems and doesn't accept any responsibility for her terrible decisions. First of all, this book promised what it didn't deliver. From the Amazon description: "Maid explores the underbelly of upper-middle class America and the reality of what it's like to be in service to them." Nope. There is no glimpse at "upper-middle" class ot ...more
Feb 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Land surmounted incredible hurdles on her way to getting a Bachelor’s degree in English and Creative Writing. She was the primary custodial parent for an adorable toddler. [The father of her child had a mean, abusive temper that caused her to leave him.] He DID provide modest child support—however grudgingly. Neither of her parents provided support of any nature.

She found that landlords do not want to deal with the government when receiving rent. Indeed, Land struggled with governmental requirem
Feb 16, 2019 rated it did not like it
This book is TERRIBLE. I cannot understand why it's being compared to “Nickeled and Dimed” or “Evicted”, both of which are well written, researched and coherent. But this? It’s nothing but a 200+ page Go-Fund-Me rant. The writing is also very poor, alternating between pretentious and sloppy ("off of" is not a synonym for “from”, for God's sake).
Which was disappointing, as I was very interested in reading Stephanie Land's story & experiences. I was a single mother as a teenager. I know first
Jan 30, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoir-biography
Ugh, so glad this is done. I really should have just abandoned it.

Stephanie Land is a really hard worker and I appreciated the glimpse into what life as a single mom living in poverty is like. It's not my personal experience so it is good to put myself into someone else's shoes for a little while. It did help me see how hard it is to pull yourself out despite the government assistance (that apparently is not that great). It made me think about single moms that I know and wonder what they actual
Feb 10, 2019 rated it it was ok
It took me awhile to figure out what troubled me so much about this book. Stay with me.

Please understand that I'm politically quite far to the left of center. I believe that social services in the US are woefully, horribly inadequate. No one in the USA should wake up hungry or sick with nowhere to turn. While our country offers much in the way of opportunity, it is all too easy to crash and burn. Also, please understand also that I personally take nothing for granted. I wake up every morning in
Cassidy Green
Feb 12, 2019 rated it it was ok
I wanted to like this book. I was raised by a single mother with two kids after fleeing horrific abuse. We were on government assistance and food stamps, and I was on free or reduced lunch all the way through my adolescent years. My GED holding mother worked early mornings, late nights, and took every opportunity afforded to her. She worked as a waitress, at construction sites, as a water truck driver. Anything to support us.

By every stretch of the imagination, I should have DEEPLY connected wit
Book of the Month
Why I love it
by Meghan Maclean Weir

Cleaning houses and practicing medicine both involve a fair amount of piss and vomit. That’s why, while reading Stephanie Land’s memoir, Maid, I often found myself thinking, I know exactly what that smells like. I’m a pediatrician. Land, during the period described in this book, was primarily a house cleaner. In both these jobs, you catch glimpses of other people’s lives, their messiness, their vulnerability and suffering. You help the best you can. You worry i
Jan 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
This well-written memoir is a prime example as to why I love the genre. Reading about other people’s experiences helps us to better understand and empathize. Stephanie Land placed her college plans on hold as she unexpectedly became pregnant; a single mom with little support, living in poverty. She struggled daily to provide for herself and her daughter working as a house cleaner and landscaper, filling the gaps with government assistance. She’s a fighter and survivor and her story is one worth ...more
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Book of The Month: Maid 2 55 Jan 14, 2019 05:21PM  
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Stephanie Land is the author of MAID: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive. Her work has been featured in the New York Times, New York Review of Books, Washington Post, Guardian; Vox, Salon, and many other outlets. She focuses on social and economic justice as a writing fellow through both the Center for Community Change and the Economic Hardship Reporting Project. She lives in Misso ...more
“I’ve learned that making a living is not the same thing as making a life. —Maya Angelou” 1 likes
“walked along a deep precipice of hopelessness. Each morning brought a constant, lip-chewing stress over making it to work and getting home without my car breaking down.” 0 likes
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