Kelly (and the Book Boar)'s Reviews > Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City

Evicted by Matthew Desmond
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Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

This book? This book was . . . .

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Per usual when I read a good hardcover, (1) I failed to watch my children play in their baseball games and instead kept my tunnel vision pointed directly at the book and (2) the flagging of the pages happened which made all of the parents around me give me the “that b*&^% be cray” look . . . .

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Buuuuuuuuuuuut as also per usual, I’m not really going to quote anything that I post-it noted. After reading Evicted I was left with one reaction . . .

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If you really want to provide yourself a justifiable excuse to hate the human race, this is the book for you. Evicted follows the lives of several people living in poverty and trying (or not, as the case may be) to get ahead. From Sharrena – the slumlord, to her tenants Lamar – a man who lost his legs when they froze while he was high, and Arleen – a woman who already lost children to the system, but is trying to hold on to her two youngest, to Tobin – the owner of a trailer park and Lenny – the “property manager” of sorts, to Scott – a former nurse who got addicted to drugs and couldn’t stop the downward spiral, to Larraine – the resident looney tune of the park.

Matthew Desmond immersed himself into the lives of these people – living with them rather than just conducting a few interviews and going back to his comfortable lifestyle. The story he presents is one that reads like a novel rather than non-fiction. Filled with dialogue and experiences rather than statistics it was a truly un-put-down-able read and it allowed me the opportunity to confirm what I’ve known for quite some time now . . .

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Every single person in this story was despicable in at least one way, shape or form and made it impossible to ever really feel sorry for them. You want to side with the landlord who is getting screwed over by tenants who don’t pay the rent, but manage to buy dope, smokes and booze – but at the same time you want to kick her ass for charging people to live in uninhabitable conditions (literally, a house she was charging $600+ for was CONDEMNED). You also want to feel for the mother who has $20 left to her name after paying rent – until she opens her mouth and proves she believes she is owed something for doing nothing and takes advantage over and over again of ANY generosity shown to her. You feel for Larraine, because obviously she is in need of some mental health services – until she becomes one of the oldest clichés in the history of the food stamp recipient who spends her entire month’s sum on one lobster and king crab dinner. I could go on and on . . .

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The lesson to be learned here is glaringly obvious. The system is broken. It’s been broken since the Five Points were built in the 1800s and it’s not getting any better. Evicted didn’t spend time getting preachy or even offering up more than a couple of suggestions on how to potentially relieve some of the pressure on the impoverished. It just laid everything out there in black and white and that is maybe the most compelling argument of all.

Review copy received from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.
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Reading Progress

April 22, 2016 – Shelved
April 22, 2016 – Shelved as: to-read
June 12, 2016 – Started Reading
June 14, 2016 – Shelved as: arcs
June 14, 2016 – Shelved as: black-as-mitchell-s-heart
June 14, 2016 – Shelved as: smort
June 14, 2016 – Shelved as: non-fiction
June 14, 2016 – Shelved as: read-in-2016
June 14, 2016 – Shelved as: skillet-to-the-face
June 14, 2016 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-23 of 23 (23 new)

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Jennifer Masterson Absolutely wonderful review, Kelly! I loved the Good Times gif! :)


Shelby *trains flying monkeys* Yay! You read good. We can still be friends


Kelly (and the Book Boar) I'm getting gooder at reeding all the tyme.


Melissa Stacy Dang! Great review! Did you read "Beyond the Beautiful Forevers," by Katherine Boo, by any chance? Just curious as to how you would compare this book with that one.


Kelly (and the Book Boar) Melissa wrote: "Dang! Great review! Did you read "Beyond the Beautiful Forevers," by Katherine Boo, by any chance? Just curious as to how you would compare this book with that one."

I have (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1...). The two are similar, but I thought this was better. The focus on a smaller group of residents and only first-hand stories rather than secondhand stories that may not have been accurate was the deciding factor.


Melissa Stacy Fascinating! Did you see the author's interview about this book on the PBS NewsHour? http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/the-st...


Melissa Stacy Also -- did the author (of "Evicted") touch on the psychology of poor financial decisions of those who are impoverished at all? I'm thinking about this essay that went viral in 2013 -- "This Is Why Poor People's Bad Decisions Make Perfect Sense" -- which has really stayed with me over the years. Very moving and accurate depiction of the hopelessness of poverty -- http://www.huffingtonpost.com/linda-t...


Kelly (and the Book Boar) Everything but the last 20-30 pages is covered using layman's terms. So yes, he discusses poor decision making/irrational rationalizations/possible medical causes of the circumstances, but it's a common sense approach rather than backed up with any kind of expert testimony.

I did not see that interview, but I'll watch it as soon as I get to (yet another) baseball event I don't plan on watching ; )


Melissa Stacy LOL!! Awesome ^.^


message 11: by Deanna (new)

Deanna I love that you flag your pages! I do love the fact that on my kindle I can highlight and make notes but when I read an actual book now I forget so much.
Great review!!!


message 12: by Christopher (new)

Christopher If you really want to provide yourself a justifiable excuse to hate the human race, this is the book for you

Oh lord, no. I have plenty of those as is :p


message 13: by Bark (new)

Bark Buuuuuuuuuuuut as also per usual, I’m not really going to quote anything that I post-it noted.

So, I'm not the only crazy person who does this?


message 14: by Ɗẳɳ 2.☊ (new)

Ɗẳɳ  2.☊ You'd think the city would at least have the common courtesy, like Flint, Michigan, to poison the drinking water, and rid itself of the human filth once and for all.


Kelly (and the Book Boar) Ɗắɳ 2.☠ wrote: "You'd think the city would at least have the common courtesy, like Flint, Michigan, to poison the drinking water, and rid itself of the human filth once and for all."

You should run for President!


Kelly (and the Book Boar) Deanna wrote: "I love that you flag your pages! I do love the fact that on my kindle I can highlight and make notes but when I read an actual book now I forget so much.
Great review!!!"


Thanks Deanna! It's soooooooo much easier to note stuff on Kindle. I've been taking paper books to the ballgames every weekend since I don't have a Paperwhite and now all the parents see my crazy ; )


Kelly (and the Book Boar) Christopher wrote: "If you really want to provide yourself a justifiable excuse to hate the human race, this is the book for you

Oh lord, no. I have plenty of those as is :p"


Hehehehehe. Can never have too many.


Kelly (and the Book Boar) Bark's Book Nonsense wrote: "Buuuuuuuuuuuut as also per usual, I’m not really going to quote anything that I post-it noted.

So, I'm not the only crazy person who does this?"


Nope. I flag the crap out of almost everything.


message 19: by Malcolm (new) - added it

Malcolm Everett Perfect review. Desmond's writing style is great, if a little flowery, but I found I couldn't get through this one. I think I was hoping to learn more facts about the system itself, and instead these stories reaffirmed all my misgivings about the welfare system. Still, I can see the value in learning about experiences outside the middle-class bubble.


message 20: by William (new) - added it

William I highly recommend this article in The New Yorker magazine. http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/201... RICHER AND POORER Accounting for inequality. By Jill Lepore It asks WHY the USA has the worst income inequality of ANY democracy in the world today


message 21: by debra (last edited Apr 22, 2017 09:45AM) (new) - added it

debra Wonderful review, Kelly! I think yours was one of the only reviews to point out that "the system is broken" but not only the landlords behave despicably, making "the fix" so much harder. Great review!


Kelly (and the Book Boar) Thank you: ) Funny this review is coming back to life due to the Pulitzer win and it's also baseball time once again. This morning I've been perusing the bookshelves for something paper in case the sun isn't friendly to my Kindle reading.


message 23: by debra (new) - added it

debra For me-I was thinking of downloading it and needed to know how much danger I was facing if I didnot like it. ;-D
Ps I really enjoyed amp *wipes sweat from brow*
Made me laugh-very clever dialogue


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