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Broke in America: Seeing, Understanding, and Ending U.S. Poverty

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  103 ratings  ·  33 reviews
Water. Food. Housing. The most basic and crucial needs for survival, yet 40 percent of people in the United States don't have the resources to get them. With key policy changes, we could eradicate poverty in this country within our lifetime—but we need to get started now.

Nearly 40 million people in the United States live below the poverty line—about $26,200 for a family of
Hardcover, 310 pages
Published February 2nd 2021 by BenBella Books
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Mar 26, 2021 rated it liked it
The authors contend that poverty is not typically a failure of character as many people believe. In my experience, I have found many people that are just looking for any loophole to milk the system. I have also met some people who are working really hard to get ahead. I think the real problem is finding a way to enable those who are willing to work and stop helping those who are lazy and believe the system “owes” them.

This book is 260 pages long. The first 137 pages describe what poverty looks
Dec 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
5 stars
Broke in America
Joanne Samuel Goldblum; Colleen Shaddox

This book is both enlightening and maddening. How a country like America has these problems is beyond me. I really feel this book needs to be mandatory reading in all schools, perhaps even all politicians should read it so they would truly know what it is like to live in poverty. More people need to realize the true effects of deprivation and the real-life complications which occur due to living in a constant state of desperate need a
I really liked this! The review copy had some issues with formatting, I think, but careful reading could follow the thread of argument--and it was very well done! I like how the authors investigated the many ways poverty affects us all, especially children, and then even included tips on things to do and how to get involved. Important book!
Thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for this review copy!
Jan 26, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley, 2021
Thank you to the authors, BenBella Books and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

This is a fantastic, albeit horrifying and maddening read. Even for those only minimally aware of the issues of economic inequality, it's obvious that way too many people are living paycheck to paycheck, or subsisting well below the poverty level, in the self-proclaimed "greatest country on earth". The framework used by the authors is very effective, pinpointing the issues first in terms of basic n
Jenn the Readaholic
Nov 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I know, I know. This is just another book about inequality and brokenness in America, right? Wrong. Yes, we do see recurring themes and points as in other books like American Bootstraps and $2 a Day, but we have more information from the professionals and activists who lived the struggle and are trying to help others, or people who keep trying to claw their way out of the gigantic pit that the obvious (and not so obvious) moves by corporations, politicians, and voters have put them in. We also h ...more
Jen Juenke
Nov 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is so different from other poverty finance books out there. I have read my fair share of them, and this book is far and away better. At the end of each chapter the authors describe actionable steps that an average person can take to help the poor, those in poverty, and those that are struggling.
I loved that. It really made me start to think about ways in which I could do something in my community.
I love the research and the time and the care that went into this book.
Its well researched
May 02, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: amazon-vine
Poverty in America is frequent fodder for political debate, with some advocating for radical measures to address the issue and others arguing that poverty is the result of poor choices and maintaining that excessive assistance will only lead to dependence and abuse. This book tries to cut through the rhetoric and look at the actual lived experiences of the poor, as well as the evidence provided by research into poverty, its causes, and its impact.

Much of what is in this book provides detail and
Crystal Tadlock
Jan 30, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Let me start by saying SHOCKING!

As someone who is "Broke in America", I was completely unaware of the many issues keeping many more than half Americans unable to provide readily for basic needs in order to live comfortable lives.

This book was well researched and included many of the resources and studies used to find the downfall in the American system. I am extremely saddened that we as a country are not fighting to take care of each other and fighting to create better income and resources th
Jeff Matlow
Dec 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
This book is to poverty what White Fragility is to racism. In the same way I believe every white person needs to read White Fragility, every non-poor person needs to read Broke In America.

It is so easy for us to lay back on our couches and say that if poor people just got a job and applied themselves, they wouldn’t be poor. The average person doesn’t realize all that we take for granted in not being poor.

This book does an incredible job of explaining the challenges of poverty and how our syste
Sara Broad
Dec 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
"Broke in America" by Joanne Samuel Goldblum and Colleen Shaddox is what I would call a 101 course on poverty in America. The book provides a really great overview of how poverty exists in America from diaper and feminine hygiene insecurity to housing and food insecurity. The authors provide readers with some astoundingly sad facts about how low wages, a limited social safety net, poor policies, racism and other factors keep people in America poor. Each section of the book could really be its ow ...more
Apr 26, 2021 rated it it was amazing
There are a lot of people living in poverty in this country. Broke in America attempts to humanize them by telling their stories and explaining how various aspects of poverty affect other seemingly unrelated things in their lives. Every chapter has ideas on how you can help. I found the book to be very informative without sounding preachy. I learned a whole lot from it. Having dealt with some of the things discussed as a foster parent, I could relate just a little to how frustrating dealing with ...more
Diana N.
Apr 12, 2021 rated it really liked it
This book does a great job at breaking down the essential needs(water, food, housing, health, utilities). So many of these needs are linked or those in poverty may have to choose ones over others. Then it talks about forms of oppression that impact the basic needs in most cases.

I really liked hearing the real stories and impacts on the people struggling through poverty. The individual story details made all the impact on having the book feel like much more than statistics and have a more persona
Doug Adair
May 03, 2021 rated it really liked it
This is an important read for any person that is looking to better understand what an enormous challenge it is to struggle to get by in America. From the constant pressure experienced by many of your community to meet basic needs - food, water, housing, essential hygiene products - to the often unseen barriers to a better life - reduced or inferior options in education, employment and healthcare access. It opened my eyes.

The book also offers steps I can take to make a difference. Real, impactful
Jun 06, 2021 rated it really liked it
Not only do the authors do an excellent job of building their argument, but they also provide ample ideas for regular people to take action to bring about change. Beliefs I came away with were: We need to either get rid of the mortgage income tax credit and/or put equivalent funds into housing support for poor people. Government also needs to fund basic hygiene like diapers and menstrual supplies, which has direct influence over whether people can go to work. And most importantly, we need to fin ...more
J9 Brown
Jan 31, 2021 rated it really liked it
*Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC*

A good broad overview of poverty in America. At times so broad that it felt a little unfocused. But all the info about the physical and mental health impacts of the stress of living in poverty, especially on children, was really important and something that should be more widely known and discussed. And the personal accounts and the lists of actions people can take at the end of each chapter were great.
Andrea Wenger
Feb 24, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This is an easy-to-read but thorough and eye-opening book. It addresses both the breadth and the depth of poverty in the US. It shows how intractable generational poverty is—how many Americans are denied even the most basic necessities, like clean water, which makes it impossible to create a better life. A must-read for all Americans.

Thanks, NetGalley, for the ARC I received. This is my honest and voluntary review.
Fianna Whitman
Apr 24, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This is such a great book. While it's true that there are a small percentage of people who just want a handout so they don't have to work, the majority of people in poverty are there through no fault of their own. I deal with such poverty on a daily basis. This books outlines and explains all the manifestations of poverty that people have to deal with and includes tips on what you can do to change that. I recommend this to everyone. ...more
Patrick Macke
Mar 01, 2021 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
The book overpromises and underdelivers ... the recent book "American Poison" does a much better job of framing why so many people in the US are poor (though the book's main bone to pick is "racism"); and 2016's "2 dollars a day: living on almost nothing in America" is simply a better book on the same subject ... just sayin' ...more
Mar 24, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Finally! A comprehensive breakdown and humanised analysis of poverty that doesn't bounce on MSM talking points and tells the whole story, blowing apart the myths of meritocracy.

It's disturbing to see Australia creeping up on the US in inequality and this book should serve a wake up call/warning to all.
Tina Panik
Well organized, with a strong thesis and solid subject delineations, this work presents the complicated world of poverty in a straightforward manner, complete with action items for the reader. Those who read on this topic regularly will appreciate the organization, and those new to the subject will leave with a greater understanding. Well done, all around.
Apr 28, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Great and comprehensive breakdown of the myriad of reasons why many Americans are living in poverty (spoiler alert: it’s not because they’re lazy). What I really appreciate about this book is that at the end of every chapter, the authors provide ways to take direct action to combat that specific piece of poverty.
Keith Wheeles
Jun 01, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a wonderful book on poverty in the US (as an active reader of books on income/wealth inequality and social justice topics, I would recommend this as the single best book on US poverty). Calm, non-hyperbolic, practical. It directly takes on the argument that people in poverty are responsible for their situation ('they just made bad choices in life').
Shelly Chmil
Jun 07, 2021 rated it it was amazing
A phenomenal book about WHY poverty exists is America. Spoiler alert: It’s not because people are lazy, it’s because our systems are set up for people to fail. Our policies are broken. What I love most about this book is that it not only gives you action steps, but it gives you hope- hope that things can get better. Should be required reading for everyone!
Barred Owl Books
Apr 12, 2021 rated it it was amazing
A thorough book that examines the systemic issues and prejudices preventing us from addressing the endemic poverty. A book is nothing without what you can do to help in small to average ways - and this book enables you to truly know about poverty and what you can do to work toward ending it!
Apr 23, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle-or-other
Complex issue. However, the author provided not only history, cause, and current state, but suggestions for potentially helping towards change. I found that to be an extra something you do not see with such subjects. Also, the book made me want to learn and do more.
May 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing
As a case worker for low income families and individuals, this book was fantastic. It opened my eyes to so many things wrong with this country and how I can change them. I can't recommend this book enough. Even if you don't work with people in poverty, it's an eye opening read. ...more
May 28, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not bad for a textbook

Definitely touches on some points, good for people who don't really understand poverty or had to live it. Poverty is a many faceted thing, there's no one size fits all cure for it.
Feb 12, 2021 rated it really liked it
I won this in a Goodreads giveaway.
This emphasized how horrific poverty is in the USA. We have a lot of work to do.
Gretchen Tomsic
Mar 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This book is full of great resources and information. Everyone should read this, and find out how we can help.
Mar 14, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: good-reads
It was a good read.
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Joanne Samuel Goldblum is CEO and founder of the National Diaper Bank Network, encompassing more than 200 member organizations that provide diapers and other basic needs to families across America. In 2018, she founded the Alliance for Period Supplies, which provides free hygiene products to the one in four people for whom menstruation means difficulty attending school and work. Joanne has spent h ...more

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