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

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

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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.

At 28, Stephanie Land's plans of breaking free from the roots of her hometown in the Pacific Northwest to chase her dreams of attending a university and becoming a writer, were cut short when a summer fling turned into an unexpected pregnancy. She turned to housekeeping to make ends meet, and with a tenacious grip on her dream to provide her daughter the very best life possible, Stephanie worked days and took classes online to earn a college degree, and began to write relentlessly.

She wrote the true stories that weren't being told: the stories of overworked and underpaid Americans. Of living on food stamps and WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) coupons to eat. Of the government programs that provided her housing, but that doubled as halfway houses. The aloof government employees who called her lucky for receiving assistance while she didn't feel lucky at all. She wrote to remember the fight, to eventually cut through the deep-rooted stigmas of the working poor.

Maid explores the underbelly of upper-middle class America and the reality of what it's like to be in service to them. "I'd become a nameless ghost," Stephanie writes about her relationship with her clients, many of whom do not know her from any other cleaner, but who she learns plenty about. As she begins to discover more about her clients' lives-their sadness and love, too-she begins to find hope in her own path.

Her compassionate, unflinching writing as a journalist gives voice to the "servant" worker, and those pursuing the American Dream from below the poverty line. Maid is Stephanie's story, but it's not her alone. It is an inspiring testament to the strength, determination, and ultimate triumph of the human spirit.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316505109
Publisher: Hachette Books
Publication date: 01/22/2019
Sold by: Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format: NOOK Book
Sales rank: 8,462
File size: 485 KB

About the Author

BARBARA EHRENREICH is the author of fourteen books, including the bestselling Nickel and Dimed and Bait and Switch. She lives in Virginia.

What People are Saying About This

#1 New York Times bestselling author of Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness - Susannah Cahalan

“Marry the evocative first person narrative of Educated with the kind of social criticism seen in Nickel and Dimed and you'll get a sense of the remarkable book you hold in your hands. In Maid, Stephanie Land, a gifted storyteller with an eye for details you'll never forget, exposes what it's like to exist in America as a single mother, working herself sick cleaning our dirty toilets, one missed paycheck away from destitution. It's a perspective we seldom see represented firsthand—and one we so desperately need right now. Timely, urgent, and unforgettable, this is memoir at its very best.”

New York Times bestselling author of Waiter Rant - Steve Dublanica

“Stephanie Land’s heartrending book, Maid, provides a trenchant reminder that something is amiss with the American Dream and gives voice to the millions of ‘working poor’ toiling in a country that needs them but doesn’t want to see them. A sad and hopeful tale of being on the outside looking in, the author makes us wonder how’d we fare scrubbing and vacuuming away the detritus of an affluence that always seems beyond reach.”

New York Times bestselling author of With or Without You - Domenica Ruta

"As a solo mom and former house cleaner, this brave book resonated with me on a very deep level. We live in a world where the solo mother is an incomplete story: adrift in the world without a partner, without support, without a grounding, centering (male) force. But women have been doing this since the dawn of time, and Stephanie Land is one of millions of solo moms forced to get blood from stone. She is at once an old and new kind of American hero. This memoir of resilience and love has never been more necessary.”

New York Times bestselling author of Bad Feminist and Hunger: A Memoir - Roxane Gay

“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… Land’s prose is vivid and engaging… [A] tightly-focused, well-written memoir… an incredibly worthwhile read.”

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Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous 29 days ago
I cannot for the life of me understand the glowing reviews for this book. Most reviews seem to have an apologetic tone, as if we are supposed to give a good review simply due to the subject matter or else risk looking like a jerk. I thought I was going to read about a mother's determination to change her circumstances despite living in a situation of poverty that was mostly outside her control. In reality Ms. Land does nothing but complain about the job she chose to do and showed zero respect for her clients, unless of course they offered to buy her lobsters and other expensive gifts. She rifles through their things, looks up their prescription meds to see what illnesses they have, try on their clothes and open dead family members' ashes multiple times! It's like something out of a Lifetime movie. On top of that, she was 28 when she got pregnant accidentally the first time, although she makes it seem like her pregnancy derailed her college dreams. Evidently she spent 10 years after high school partying, did a stint in Alaska with a boyfriend and all they did was smoke weed, and she had zero plans for her life as an adult. She writes about all of this on her website. I could not connect with her irresponsibility financially and as a parent. She had a grating sense of entitlement that spoiled the book for me. I am not saying this as a conservative "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" talking point, I have been a poor single mom. Stephanie Land threw a tantrum in a grocery store because she couldn't use WIC to buy organic milk for her toddler. Do you know how many people can't afford to buy organic milk and don't feel their government assistance should pay for it?? Or how many middle class families live paycheck to paycheck without assistance and can't afford organic milk?! What does she think THEY do?! It was disgusting. Last but not least, despite all the (unacknowledged) irresponsible mistakes Stephanie made, and how she preached that nobody should judge her, SHE JUDGED THE HELL OUT OF HER CLIENTS AND COWORKERS! If a client was sick, she decided they shouldn't be, because they had more money thatn her. LOL!! So the middle class, mostly elderly people she cleaned for could not possibly have health problems because they were middle class? How does that work? Sickness is not a respecter of persons and illness can happen to absolutely anyone. Sometimes money makes a difference in ability to obtain a cure. Most times it does not, especially if you're not rich, which none of her clients were. And I felt bad for her coworkers. She looked down on them and determined she was better because she wasn't as bad as them. I found this detestable and almost comical for a book that preached not to judge. She had no idea the circumstance her coworkers were going through (she never bothered to ask) and it is likely they weren't nearly as irresponsible as she was. Stephanie Land continued to make poor decisions with men and accidentally got pregnant again, which is not included in this "memoir." I guess good for her in getting so lucky to have Barbara Ehrenreich propel her writing career. I hope for her kids' sake she has made a small fortune, because she doesn't seem cut out for the normal grind most Americans have to withstand, and she certainly doesn't seem capable of figuring out how to provide and be a responsible parent as a regular working class person.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is pure creative, dramatic, writing. I have a cleaning business that I have been working in for 20 + years and never have I encountered anything close to what this lady is talking about. Sure we get problem clients here and there (we fire those) but for the most part people are very nice and helpful. Also, cleaners usually work in teams of 2 or 3, sometimes more. Most of the houses are neat and we just come to maintain and preserve the hygiene. We can 5 houses a day without a problem. And there is no pain to you body. You are moving constantly and staying active. Athletes have a harder time. The pay is very decent and most of the time CASH. This can be a nice novel maybe but its not reality at all. I work in a very affluent part of Mass. This is creative writing masquerading as anecdotes.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I wanted to love this book. I wanted to have more empathy for this book I was drawn to this book by the title, "Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive." However, what empathy and love I had for this book diminished as the book went on. If I was asked half way through for my review it would have been a five star book. I enjoyed how the majority of the chapters were names of different houses she cleaned and gave descriptions of how each house was different. However, I felt like the book dragged on. While I cannot begin to understand her situation, I was expecting more hope and inspiration. The author does gloss over this at the very end. I'm happy to see that she is married and has a second daughter and accomplished her dreams of doing so, but I wanted more of that portion of her life than was written about. I believe this book would have been more of an inspiration to others if she would have discussed the climb as well as the struggle. What I couldn't possibly understand was why when she got her refund check did she buy gifts and redecorate her current living situation instead of putting that money toward renting another location. This was after the doctor told her she needed to move out for her daughter's health and she buys a $200 ring. I believe everyone needs to splurge every once in a while when they often give so much to their children and not enough to self care, however I just couldn't help but want to put my palm to my head during this part of the book. I do however applaud her hard work ethic, I do not see many people with the strength that she has.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read for may , mother's day.
Twink More than 1 year ago
Stephanie Land's memoir Maid has been on dozens of book lists, so you may have heard of or read it already. All the hype? Absolutely deserved - it was a powerful, eye opening read. But, if you haven't heard of it, the publisher's blurb is a pretty concise descriptor: "Evicted meets Nickel and Dimed in Stephanie Land’s memoir about working as a maid, a beautiful and gritty exploration of poverty in America." Having read both of those books, I knew this was one I wanted to read. Star studded tell-alls are of no interest to me. Instead I find myself invariably drawn to memoirs of everyday people. The struggles and the triumphs- real life. Land finds herself pregnant just as she is about to apply to university to follow her dream of becoming a writer. That dream is sidetracked and Land ends up working as a maid to support her daughter. Her struggles - financially, medically, mentally and physically - are captured in brutally honest prose. The reader is alongside as she navigates 'the system', her relationships and the anonymity of cleaning houses. But, just as affecting is the love she has for her daughter and her desire to follow her dream of becoming a writer. Land's work made for addictive reading and is a testament to her tenacity. While she may have made choices that I would not have, I'm not here to judge. There is no way to 'rate' someone's life, but if pressed, I would give Maid is a five star read for Land's honesty is sharing her life story so far.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is no an easy road, behind a single parent resources Her story made me sad for her difficult journey, and at the end I was proud of soul searching and her determination to find a place where she was HOME with Mia and finally able t live without fear.
ody More than 1 year ago
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 privacy and was very stressful. So she fought hard to avoid ever being in that position again if she could help it. When she found herself suddenly homeless again a couple of years later after a breakup with a year-long boyfriend and he gave her a month to move out, she refused to go back to a shelter. She was trying so hard to get ahead, taking classes online, studying at night when her daughter slept, trying to get a degree. With the help of friends this time, Stephanie managed to move them into a tiny studio apartment and stored much of their things and worked harder than ever to stay afloat. There were times she drank coffee to help with the hunger pains, and there were times she had to go a couple of weeks without coffee even. This book is very readable, though not easy topics, it moves well. I found it a very interesting record of what Stephanie went through during that time in her life as she did what she had to in order to get by for her and her daughter.  She’s very strong and put up with a lot. It had to be terribly hard without any family help all that time, and no support system to speak of much of the time. You could really feel for her, the loneliness and aching as she slogged along wanting a better life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The foreword had my heart in my throat. The story has me holding my breath for Stephanie. And this was the sample for Nook!
thebookish_yogi More than 1 year ago
Maid takes us on a dark journey of working in the "service" industry, and provides an in depth look at the struggles of those workers, while shining a bright light on the inequities in society. Poverty, government assistance, "serving" the upper middle class for peanuts, all while being a single mother. Those are just some of the things that Stephanie Land not only experienced, but also shines a light on in this book. I really appreciated reading this book and Stephanie's first hand experiences. It's one thing to relay to someone what your experiences have been, by mouth, and another thing entirely when you are free to let it all out on the page. I think she did an amazing job of thoroughly drawing you into her world, and giving you a reason to care about her story. While my journey wasn't nearly as rough as Land's, I can identify to some degree with some of her situations, that I won't touch on here. Because I felt I could identify a bit, it did make me feel more, and appreciate her words so much more, when reading this book, than I have with other memoirs. I don't think you have to have experienced anything like it to appreciate it, however. Everyone should read this book; perhaps it will start some change, no matter how small. It was a book that will stick with me and one that I will most definitely recommend. With that being said, I would have loved to read more about Stephanie's personal life, and more about her journey to the top. Perhaps she will write a follow up; if so, I will definitely read it.
diane92345 More than 1 year ago
The tenacious memoir of the author’s struggle with poverty and single motherhood is told in Maid. Stephanie has dreams of going to college and becoming a writer. Those dreams are shattered by an unexpected pregnancy and an abusive baby’s daddy. With experience only as a barista in an economic downturn, Stephanie is forced into a shelter, subsidized housing and minimum wage part-time work as a Maid. Stephanie’s inspirational story is heartwarming. Despite overwhelming odds, she continues to move forward. I particularly liked her stories of the houses she cleaned especially the ones she nicknamed the porn house and the hoarder’s house. They provided some much needed comic relief. If you need motivation to change your life, Maid’s inspirational story can help see how even seemingly insurmountable problems can be pushed through with hard work. I hope to see another book from Stephanie in the future. 4 stars! Thanks to Hachette Books and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Kiwi2112 More than 1 year ago
This book gives a view of what it is like to be in a situation where you are doing everything to can to make it day by day and month by month with no safety net. It highlights how government programs are made to provide help but aren't able to give enough assistance to allow someone to move up and out of the system. I definitely have a new appreciation for people going through these situations and can see how the story told in this book could really be almost anyone if the right events occurred. I do wish there was more told on how the author was able to get past the situation she was in to where she is today but I also realize there needs to be an end at some point.
PattySmith87 More than 1 year ago
Many thanks to NetGalley, Hachette Books, and Stephanie Land for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are 100% my own and independent of receiving an advanced copy. Stephanie Land has written a raw, honest, in-your-face book about what it is like to be poor, a single mother and working at what is considered to be menial labour. I found this read difficult and uncomfortable and I think that is what she wants you to feel. As I started to read, I was sympathetic, feeling for her plight in life. She made difficult choices and was left without a lot of options. She writes in the afterwards that she was lucky because she saw a different way of life as a child. She knew there was more out there. She notes that for people who are born into poverty, without the ability to experience anything different, and faced with minimal options, it is very difficult to imagine a better life for yourself. I don’t think we realize, if we are lucky enough to be middle class, how many opportunities we have, expectations, support, etc. so that if we want to, we can make a good life for us and for our children. But as the books went on and on and on and I got to about 50% of the way through I felt like I couldn’t take it anymore. It said, in the beginning of the book, that this has a happy ending. I wanted to get to that part already. I couldn’t hear anymore about how tired she was, how her kid was sick, and then I stopped and thought wow! I can’t handle reading about it and she had to live it! How did she pull herself out of it, I’ll never know that kind of strength. I hope I don’t have to have that kind of strength. It does have a happy ending and it really makes you think about so many issues. Land tells you, in no uncertain terms, what it is like to work as a maid. I am fortunate enough to have someone to help clean our house, it is something we scrimp and save to be able to afford, since I am not able to do it anymore. I had to take a good look in the mirror and think if I had ever treated or spoke to our helpers, the way some people had spoken to Land. I use a service, similar to the one Land worked for, and I am not sure if they are making a decent living wage or not. I know they do 2 sometimes 3 houses in a day and I really hadn’t considered their physical pain that they must feel, doing their job, day after day. I know that I don’t look down on their line of work because I am not above scrubbing a toilet myself. When Land describes cleaning those bathrooms, I think I threw up in my mouth a little. Uch!! I certainly hope that no one has felt like that in my home. What struck me the most was the loneliness. I think I was prepared to hear about the fatigue, the pain, the worrying about her child, the kid being sick and not being able to go to daycare. I had some of the same worries, but I was not alone. I didn’t have to deal with an abusive ex, an absentee family, and I had friends. I didn’t have the shame of poverty that she felt and how that would make a person isolate themselves. To just crave some human contact. I worry about money, but I haven’t had to go hungry. I can’t imagine going through a government process of trying to get help, the amount of forms, dealing with that kind of prejudice, and still getting up every day, going to work, making a home for your child, playing with them, putting them to bed and doing it all over again, day after day. How about trying to get a decent place to live and having landlords not want to rent
KarenfromDothan More than 1 year ago
Stephanie Land’s memoir of her time spent working as a maid is enlightening. She is a single mom with a high school education getting no support from her family and very little from her child’s father. She is a hard worker willing to do almost anything to support herself and her young daughter. She kept a journal during her time of struggle and is now sharing her experience with the world. My takeaway after reading this book is that we can and should do more to help the poor. I think it will help me to judge less and show more compassion and sympathy. With 80% of Americans living paycheck to paycheck, I hope this book will help ease the stigma of public assistance. I’m glad I read this book, and I’m glad the author was able to achieve her dreams. Overall, I think it’s well written and interesting, but it sometimes has a complaining tone which I felt took away from the story. As much as I wanted to love it, I thought it was good, but not great.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I could not put it down