Date Published: January 22, 2019
Publisher: Hatchette Books
Synopsis: 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 by women–fuels the economic success of the wealthy. Stephanie Land worked for years as a maid, pulling long hours while struggling as a single mom to keep a roof over her daughter’s head. In Maid, she reveals the dark truth of what it takes to survive and thrive in today’s inequitable society.
While she worked hard to scratch her way out of poverty as a single parent, scrubbing the toilets of the wealthy, navigating domestic labor jobs, higher education, assisted housing, and a tangled web of government assistance, Stephanie wrote. She wrote the true stories that weren’t being told. The stories of overworked and underpaid Americans.
Written in honest, heart-rending prose and with great insight, 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. With this book, she gives voice to the “servant” worker, those who fight daily to scramble and scrape by for their own lives and the lives of their children.
Thoughts + Feelings: Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay and a Mothers Will to Survive was incredibly frustrating to read. Stephanie Land was dealt challenging cards in life. She became pregnant in an abusive relationship, left that relationship without a steady income, struggled to find affordable housing, entered into more unstable and unreliable relationships, continued to make poor choices with any extra source of income, and so on and so forth.
I was really looking forward to reading this memoir because I was expecting to learn more about the profession of being a maid — crazy right? I was disappointed in the lack of story revolving around being a maid.
One piece of the story that has stuck with me is that Stephanie didn’t appear to fit the “stereotype” of the individuals we associate with needing to go to the government for help. Often times we jump to conclusions about individuals who use government services, although the services are there for a reason and there is absolutely nothing bad about utilizing the services that we have provided to us. It was a big check to my own privilege – things can happen to anyone; it doesn’t matter who you are, what you look like or where you’re from.
However I was left with quite a few questions… Why does Stephanie have zero savings? Why does she buy herself a $200 diamond ring when she receives a $4000 tax refund instead of moving herself and her daughter, Mia, out of an apartment with black mold??
I tried not to judge while reading the memoir because each person gets to make their own decisions and its hard to say what choices you’ll make when faced with a challenging question. But there is also a point where you have to stop and reflect on your choices in the moment and figure out what the heck you’re doing.
I originally rated this book as an average novel, but now I feel like it was 2/5 stars. While I understand that this is representative of Stephanie Land’s life, she was repetitive in her novel and quite irresponsible with her child. I hope that as her success takes off, both as a student and a writer, that Stephanie has learned how to manage her time, money and lifestyle.