Don't even think about it! The author takes the extremely important issue of whether or not people can live on minimum wage and makes it into an 8 hour rant on how her back aches. She sets down the ground rules in the beginning of the book: She will NOT go homeless, she WILL use her ATM card incase of emergency, she WILL always have a car to drive around in, she WILL take the highest paying low income job available. There are more rules, but they are pretty weak considering that the working poor do not have these rules or options.
I would have preferred she took the opportunity to really understand what is going on inside the heads of people who have to scrape out a living on a minimum wage salary. She could find out what has enabled people to make it and what has condemed those who have continued to live in absolute poverty. Instead, she gives an upper middle class view point on how rough it is to be poor. No one wants to pay for an audio book that only goes on and on about how it sucks to be poor! I can't believe this book has sold so many copies. The author must really be well connected.
I agree with those who believe this author imagines, due to her own privileged background, that people who start out with no advantages have few options and little hope. As someone who had nothing at all handed to me and now, in my early forties, makes more than many of my friends who hold an MBA (I never went to college), and in a very normal white collar business where I simply dedicated myself and worked hard from the very bottom up, I obviously have a very different perspective on what people with a good work ethic and determination can accomplish. It's all about personal responsibility and, sometimes, hard choices (choose not to have 2-3 kids out of wedlock if you want to increase your chances of success, for example). Even so, speaking objectively, it's still a worthwhile read and story - I am always someone who wants to read the other side and consider.
The negative reactions to this book may be caused by the occasionally arch tone of the reader. The choice of which words to emphasize sometimes makes the author sound supercilious. However, this is a close and personal look behind the statistics we tend to ignore, or pay only cursory attention. It is a healthy thing for those of us who are not the working poor, to have a look at the fragile existence of those struggling to get by on low wages. The writing is excellent, of course, and engaging.
Listening to this book can be a real downer. Americans like to think that anyone who works, and works hard enough, can rise in our socio-economic hierarchy. In fact, however, the poor (i.e. low-paid wage workers) are basically locked into a system that keeps them poor. The author paints a bleak, depressing picture of the very real obstacles to "moving up" from the bottom in American society. The author's months spent "posing" as a late entry to the work-a-day world (as a waitress, an institutional health-are worker, a house cleaner, and a Wall-Mart jack-of-all-trades) paints a grim, grim picture of a reality that might likely break most all of us (i.e. non-entry-level low-wage workers).
As the gap between the richest and poorest strata of our society widens, we owe it to ourselves to revise our bootstrap myth realistically. It's not a fun read, but it's certainly an important one.
One might have wished, though, that the narration was a bit more engaging.
If you want to call a book eye opening, this is it. I can no longer "see" waitresses, maids, or the people at WalMart the way I did before the book. I want my kids to listen when they get to be around 15. Maybe they will understand just how lucky we are and the costs of leaving others behind. The insights are gripping. The listen is engrossing. And I am a better person for having heard this book.
Very informative and insightful look into the lives of the hard-working poor. Very convicting. Some pretty harsh language, but Ehrenreich is a very funny and thoughtful author.
This is a book I would have not picked up for myself but it was a pick within my book club so I needed to give it a try. I thought I was an open minded, economic aware person until I read this book. my husband and I are now having our kids listen to it.
This story show the plight of the low income worker. There is a lot of merit in the story and it helped me have more empathy for those who who perform low income jobs. What the story does not do is encourage people to strive to improve their situation. What about getting and education, joining the military to get a free education, working hard to get a better job. Instead the author downs those who have worked hard and improved their lives. Many who are "wealthy" have not had to work for it but the author makes no distinction between the two.
An important topic but outdated for our time. The author is definitely upper crusted while supporting a voice of the "have not's", but comes across very presumptuous. This book is good for the rich, but coming from a paycheck to paycheck living it's not enough and out of touch for how we live.