Stephanie Land’s “Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive” is an eye-opening autobiographical story of being poor in America.
At the start of the “Maid,” readers see Land making the difficult decision to keep her pregnancy, despite an unsteady and challenging life. The author describes the relationship with her child’s father as rocky, eventually becoming abusive. When their daughter is born, Land makes the necessary decision to leave her partner and seek government assistance in food stamps, housing, medical, etc. Land also decides to find local work with a flexible schedule to care for her child. Maid services offer everything she needs, though the pay is low and livable.
One of the biggest lessons I got from reading this book was learning how people trying to survive poverty must constantly prove their status to save their government assistance. Throughout the book, readers witness how difficult it is for a single mother who is underpaid to get ahead of her situation. For example, Stephanie had to provide pay stubs to continue receiving child care vouchers, even if that meant losing a day’s pay from waiting in the office for her caseworker. I also didn’t realize how physically dangerous it was for a cleaner, the constant bending, stretching to reach tricky corners, toxic fumes, etc. It’s all very demanding work. These people work hard but never get enough credit.
The writing was clear and honest. It didn’t come off as a book, but several diary entries, making the entire read more personal. Also, Land mentioned some mistakes she made as a parent in a dire situation. I sometimes catch myself judging people less privileged, but mistakes happen and often in a split second. For example, when Stephanie pulled over on the side of the highway to pick up the doll her daughter dropped out of the window, at that moment, the author thought it would be a simple grab, which turned into a horrific accident.