Steven's Reviews > Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Nomadland by Jessica Bruder
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bookshelves: ebook, grim-futures, social-sciences, thats-messed-up, footnotes-on-the-page

A thoughtful look at the growing population of older Americans forced (for the most part) to work to the end of their lives and live in small, more or less mobile, spaces. It was a real eye-opener.

Many of the people Bruder follows several denizens of trailers, RVs, vans and cars as they move around the country looking for work and cheap/safe places to park their homes. Although some have chosen to live like this, most have fallen into this life through foreclosures, illness, the 2008 recession, and other unfortunate events. I was surprised at the number of people who had been high-earning executives in their former lives.

The people she follows often find seasonal work as campsite hosts in national parks and forests, helping with the fall sugar beet harvest in North Dakota, or working in large Amazon warehouses pulling merchandise for shipment - all though a system known as workamping. These places either have or are near large RV parks - or sometimes just empty fields. Workers can earn a decent hourly wage, and employers don't have to pay benefits or worry about housing. The work is difficult (Bruder takes on some of these jobs herself), but temporary.

The people Bruder meets open up their lives to her and are remarkable for their generosity to her and other people in the same shoes. Through them, Bruder learns about safe ways to live on the road, safety tips, and ways to modify vehicles to make them more liveable.

This book is both upbeat and depressing at the same time. Depressing in that no one should have to hit the open road in their old age just to keep a roof (of sorts) over their head and food on the table. But encouraging to know just how resilient and adaptable humans can be.

I don't know how I'd handle things if I ever had to make some of the choices these people do. Here's hoping it never happens. But clearly it does, as evidenced by the "how to live out of a van" books that popped up as suggested readings after I finished this ebook...
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Reading Progress

October 2, 2017 – Shelved
October 2, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read
March 16, 2018 – Started Reading
March 19, 2018 – Shelved as: ebook
March 19, 2018 – Shelved as: grim-futures
March 19, 2018 – Shelved as: social-sciences
March 19, 2018 – Shelved as: thats-messed-up
March 19, 2018 – Shelved as: footnotes-on-the-page
March 19, 2018 – Finished Reading

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