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Publisher's Summary

From the author of the eye-opening and controversial essay on poverty that was read by millions comes the real-life Nickel and Dimed, as Linda Tirado explains what it's like to be working poor in America, and why poor people make the decisions they do.

We in America have certain ideas of what it means to be poor. Linda Tirado, in her signature brutally honest yet personable voice, takes all of these preconceived notions and smashes them to bits. She articulates not only what it is to be working poor in America (yes, you can be poor and live in a house and have a job, even two), but what poverty is truly like - on all levels. In her thought-provoking voice, Tirado discusses how she went from lower-middle class, to sometimes middle class, to poor and everything in between, and in doing so reveals why "poor people don't always behave the way middle-class America thinks they should."

©2014 Linda Tirado (P)2014 Penguin Audio

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Buy the written copy, NOT the audio by the author

Look, I'm sympathetic to the author's cause, but if she is going to read it as if she's yelling at me the entire time, and with that much attitude and swearing just to be edgy... poor choice.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

BEING POOR

“Hand to Mouth” is Linda Tirado’s perception and experience of being poor in America. Conservative media rants, and liberal paeans to Linda Tirado’s memoir infer guilt more than understanding. Some conservative’ pundits believe any American who works hard can get ahead. Many liberal’ pundits believe most Americans born poor will remain poor. Liberal’ pundits praise Tirado’s story because it reinforces their belief in “born poor, remain poor” while conservative’ pundits attack Tirado’s credibility because her story denies equal opportunity. If Tirado’s facts are only partly untrue, it assuages conservative guilt about belief in equal opportunity. Even if Tirado’s facts are only partly true, promotion of her story assuages liberal’s guilt for being personally successful.

What is missing from a fair understanding of Tirado’s memoir is its fundamental truth; i.e. being a minimum wage employee in America is grindingly difficult.

Tirado breaks the cycle with some skill as a writer but a lot of luck. Her story is picked up by the media. Her story is told every day by other minimum wage workers seen on main street; e.g. the people serving hamburgers, cleaning houses, waiting tables. Tirado’s story just became the chosen one. Tirado will have a whole new set of problems to face in her life but they will come from her own personality; not the exigencies of American society that chooses to ignore the plight of minimum wage workers.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

She's lived it, and she gets it.

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I will recommend this book to all of my friends, as it's real, honest writing about real lives.

What did you like best about this story?

She pulls no punches about what it's like to live as a poor white woman (bonus points for writing about poverty while staying in her lane, despite much of it being able to be generalized to all poor people) who is trying to do everything right and is still getting pushed down. Everything she wrote about, I have either experienced or worked with people who are living it daily. From walking to jobs because of lack of transportation only to get fired for not being "presentable," to being mistreated by her dentist for problems that were not her fault but assumed to be hers anyway, to having to take care of every small illness at home until it seemed too big to deal with because preventative medicine is impossible -- this is the reality of trying to have dignity in a system that sees all poor people as being that way due to poor morality and not systemic violence.

Which character – as performed by Linda Tirado – was your favorite?

Linda Tirado reading the book was a wonderful addition. It was great to be able to put a voice to the book and hear in her own voice everything she was talking about through her own words.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I laughed in several places. In others I got so angry I carried that frustration with me throughout the day, because it was all true.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Succinct and True

What did you like about this audiobook?

The author's performance adds so much to this book. If you're open to learning what it's actually like to be poor in America and don't mind feeling a bit guilty while you learn what your privilege means to poor people, this book is for you. Of course the author doesn't speak for every single poor person in this country. But she does paint a very clear picture of what millions of people like her go through just to get by. And it's not pretty. Yes, she can come off as a bit whiny at times. But you know what? She has every right to whine. It's hard as hell to be poor. Props to her for telling the truth.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • smt4242
  • St. Louis, MO United States
  • 03-01-17

Accurate!

While i have some reservations about the language, the reality of experience is spot on. Unless you have lived paycheck to paycheck you simply do not understand what most people go through every day. This book helps those that don't get it, get it, maybe.
I found myself nodding several times because I've been there. I've had to decide what bill do i pay and risk the other going to collections. That is one example that some people refuse to understand. Another example, just because i didn't clean today doesn't mean I'm dirty... It means I'm tired from working, so chill out.
Thanks!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

How the other half lives excellently described

I liked everything about this book. Well done all around. The voicing was superb. It stayed engaging.

My only nit-pick is the reading was done with a sound activated microphone apparently. Whenever a sentence was started that didn't have a previous sentence to keep the microphone on, the microphone wouldn't pick up the first part of the word. For example, "Things" would sound like "hings" as the 'th' sound was halved. It was annoying.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

It does open your eyes to life in America. . .but

What made the experience of listening to Hand to Mouth the most enjoyable?

Linda Tirado does an amazing. . .outstanding job of narrating her own book. There is little doubt this is an intelligent woman behind her story. I felt like, rather than reading her book to me, I was there. . .and she was yelling at me (at times).

Would you recommend Hand to Mouth to your friends? Why or why not?

Yes. . .from somebody who grew up poor. . .and later found (semi) wealth, I agree with most of what she says. And...HOW she says it.

Which scene was your favorite?

I winced when she described how banks "nickel and dime" their customers and, how, a bank-charge can be 10% of one's monthly earnings. I remember the first time I went into a bank that proclaimed, "free-checking!" I didn't believe it. I went in and asked, "What's the catch?" There wasn't a catch--and I was blown away. I remember this like yesterday as I was so tired of being nickel'ed and dime'ed to death!

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

She angry. And it shows. She plays the victim and explains it. I never understood, though, why somebody in this life position doesn't take out a loan, get a college degree, and work for a higher-income, better life--while paying off educational loan debt. The opportunities are there. . .but one must INVEST in themselves, too.

Any additional comments?

This is a TIRADE. . .an anger fest. She's absolutely right in almost everything she says. But she makes herself the victim. Rationalize having children any way you want...but if you're poor and are struggling to take care of yourself, please don't bring children into that world, too. Make yourself better. Education. Trade School. You can do it...it is hard. It is just as hard as living in poverty. If anything, Linda Tirado's TIRADE justified my choices in my own life. It's a fun, entertaining, and heartfelt audio book. I give it 4 stars out of 5.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Simply my reality.

This book was an optional read for extra credit in a sociology class I'm currently enrolled in at CSUSB. I have to admit that I thoroughly enjoyed every chapter...it made me laugh with jokes that will only be understood by those who have "been there"... it made me shake my head with disgust at the reality and truths that are revealed about minimum wage student living...it made me sad to recognize my future, but that gave me motivation enough to desperately try at finding a better job, and landing one. To the author, thank you for helping me recognize where I was in life and where I would be if I didn't make a change...it forced me to step up into something better...I'll admit, I got lucky... but best of luck to everyone else who " just gets this" book...you know you need it, lol.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • PJ
  • 11-13-14

EPIC!

Where does Hand to Mouth rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Hand To Mouth is at the top.

What other book might you compare Hand to Mouth to and why?

No other book has ever come this close to the real, visceral truth about what it's like to be poor in the United States.

Have you listened to any of Linda Tirado’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

n/a

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Required reading for the middle-class and above.

Any additional comments?

This book hit home, big-time. Linda writes, speaks, and feels right from her heart, and I know this because I LIVE this, every single second of every single day. There were moments in this book that caused tears to well up in my eyes because you almost never read or hear your exact experiences, frustrations, and reality written or spoken as they were in this book. Linda Tirado, thank you, and bravo!

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Wasn't exactly what I thought ...

I work in a food pantry and really thought this would be more about food. instead it's about choices and which ones are affordable. Lots of swearing and the discussions on sex were interesting if not really what I thought would be relevant to the topic.