What can you get with 25 dollars and a dream? Adam Shepard graduated from college feeling disillusioned by the apathy around him and was then incensed after reading Barbara Ehrenreich's famous work Nickel and Dimed- a book that gave him a feeling of hopelessness about the working class in America. He set out to disprove Ehrenreich's theory - the notion that those who start at the bottom stay at the bottom - by making something out of nothing to achieve the American Dream. Shepard's plan was simple. With a sleeping bag, the clothes on his back, and $25 in cash, and restricted from using his contacts or college education, he headed out for Charleston, South Carolina, a randomly selected city, with one objective: to work his way out of homelessness and into a life that would give him the opportunity for success. His goal was to have, after one year, $2,500, a working automobile, and a furnished apartment. Scratch Beginnings is the earnest and passionate account of Shepard.
©2008 Adam Shepard (P)2011 Tantor
"Don't believe the naysayers. The American dream---the fable that says if you work hard and follow the rules, you'll make it---is alive and well." (New York Post)
I really enjoyed the casual, entertaining writing style from the author. And, the narrator did a wonderful job bringing it all to life in an appropriate southern accent. While the comparisons to Nickled and Dimed are hard to avoid, I thought the author produced a compelling message and pleasant alternative to alot of the negativity today. He seemed like an intrinsically more optimist, hopeful person than Barbara Ehrenrich. Some parts of the dialog felt more like a reality TV show than an essay on why the American Dream is still achievable, but I didn't consider that a bad thing, as long as you are not just looking for a serious coverage of the topic, but wanting equal parts entertainment. He really brought it back together in the epilogue and formulated his conclusions in a compelling way in the end. Great job and I highly recommend it!
The story was really interesting but I had the strong impression this would be a response to "Nickel and Dimed." - The book was only mentioned once, and no comparison was made between her struggle and his, and how he made better choices.
There also was so much detail missing, such as how he setup his budget and the numbers.
The end he gives a really cliche and vague final thoughts on poverty & the american dream, a little cheezy.
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