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Publisher's Summary

New York Times best seller

"A single mother's personal, unflinching look at America's class divide, a description of the tightrope many families walk just to get by, and a reminder of the dignity of all work." (President Barack Obama, Obama's Summer Reading List) 

At 28, Stephanie Land's dreams of attending a university and becoming a writer quickly dissolved when a summer fling turned into an unplanned pregnancy. Before long, she found herself a single mother, scraping by as a housekeeper to make ends meet. Maid is an emotionally raw, masterful account of Stephanie's years spent in service to upper-middle-class America as a "nameless ghost" who quietly shared in her clients' triumphs, tragedies, and deepest secrets. Driven to carve out a better life for her family, she cleaned by day and took online classes by night, writing relentlessly as she worked toward earning a college degree. She wrote of the true stories that weren't being told: of living on food stamps and WIC coupons, of government programs that barely provided housing, of aloof government employees who shamed her for receiving what little assistance she did. Above all else, she wrote about pursuing the myth of the American dream from the poverty line, all the while slashing through deep-rooted stigmas of the working poor. 

Maid is Stephanie's story, but it's not hers alone. It is an inspiring testament to the courage, determination, and ultimate strength of the human spirit. 

©2019 Stephanie Land (P)2019 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

President Barack Obama, Summer Reading List (2019)

Forbes, Most Anticipated Books of the Year

Glamour, Best Books of the Year

Time, 11 New Books to Read This January

Vulture, Eight New Books You Should Read This January

Thrillist, All the Books We Can't Wait to Read in 2019

USA Today, Five New Books Not to Miss

Amazon, Best Books of the Month

Detroit News, New Books to Look Forward to in 2019

The Missoulian, Best Books of the Month

San Diego Entertainer, Books to Kick Off Your New Year

People, Perfect for Your Book Club

Boston.com, 20 Books to Look Out for in 2019

Hello Giggles, Best New Books to Read This Week

Newsweek, Best Books of 2019 So Far

CNN Travel, Books You Should Read This Summer

Mental Floss, Summer Reading List

BookTrib, Books That Will Make You Look Smart at the Beach!

"A single mother's personal, unflinching look at America's class divide, a description of the tightrope many families walk just to get by, and a reminder of the dignity of all work." (President Barack Obama, "Obama's 2019 Summer Reading List") 

"More than any book in recent memory, Land nails the sheer terror that comes with being poor, the exhausting vigilance of knowing that any misstep or twist of fate will push you deeper into the hole." (The Boston Globe

"Stephanie Lands memoir [Maid] is a bracing one." (The Atlantic

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What listeners say about Maid

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

It's Supposed to Be Inspiring

This book got rave reviews and very bad reviews. It seems like most of the good reviews come from the paper book and most of the bad come from the audio book. I can understand both viewpoints.

I think this is supposed to be a book about how anything is possible if you work hard and focus on your goals. It's about the struggle to dig oneself out of the bottom of hopelessness to the heights of realizing your dream. There is the nitty gritty downright nasty times that SL had to endure and we got an birds eye peak into the world of those who clean houses for a living.

The audio version would have been better - in my opinion - if someone else had narrated it. Ms. Lands voice is so negative and downtrodden and pathetic and weary and on and on. It just sounded so pathetic and poor me that I wanted to shake her, slap her face, anything to make her snap out of it. It reminded me of Sally Fields bio. Awful. Just awful.

One thing that caught my eye on other reviews was the negativity about the 'diamond ring' that she bought with some of her 4000 dollar tax refund money. Those reviews were so harsh and critical saying that she should have used that money on things she really needed. That led me to believe that she spent the entire sum on a ring but she actually spent $200 on a titanium ring with a 'diamond' stone. She deserved to spend some money on herself. It's ok! Y'all back off and let the girl have a little something for herself.

But it was interesting enough to keep listening. Barely interesting enough to keep listening. Would I recommend this book? Probably not. But I doubt I will forget about it either because it was bad enough to stay in my memory taking up valuable space that I could use for something else. If it was a hardback or paperback book I would not keep it on the shelf since there are other books more deserving of the space.

Is this a confusing review? Of course. It's a confusing book.

13 people found this helpful

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Very engaging

I downloaded this the day it came out on the basis of the synopsis. I had no idea that there was a lot of buzz about this book. So in the midst of a killer migraine, I listened straight through and it more than held my attention.

As I often do with books I really like or loathe, I read the reviews afterward. I was surprised at all the judgment a bunch of white women heaped upon her--not the book, but the author. Even the ones who wrote good reviews were judgmental. "poor choices" was mentioned quite often. Her first "poor choice" was to get pregnant and not have an abortion. Ok, not the choice I would make but understandable that she wanted to have the baby. I found all her choices understandable. All the judgment and outrage in the reviews came mostly from white women who I have to assume have never experienced poverty because if they had, I doubt they'd be crucifying Land for the things she did to survive and feed her kid.

Information not in the book showed up in the reviews. I did feel some gaps in the book and wondered why Land didn't leave those parts out if she wasn't going to elaborate. As a result, she left the reader hanging in places.

My two favorite dumb comments: If she was so poor, how could she afford tattoos? Maybe she got them before? The other (frequent comment) was that the book was confusing. Was it about being a single mother living in poverty or was it about being a maid? Uh...both. That's what she did to pay the bills.

I thought Land did an excellent job illustrating how hard it is to be poor and how the system keeps you there, e.g, she tries to make more money (while going to college) by working more but she earns a couple bucks too much and loses her day care subsidy. You can't climb out of poverty slowly by increasing your earnings bit by bit, you have to make a jump (somehow) by making next to nothing to making 40 or 50 grand a year (if you have a kid you're trying to support).

There are other books that show how the system keeps people in poverty better by providing more details (Linda Tirado--Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America is one book that comes to mind) but as a memoir, this one was quite good. The last thing I'd say is this: contrary to the synopsis Maid is NOT like Evicted (one of the best, but he's a journalist and a lot of research went into that) or Nickel and Dimed (another great book, but a journalist going under cover is not the same as living in poverty 24/7). So if that's what you're looking for, Maid is not it. Maid is a memoir about one woman's life--an interesting life.

109 people found this helpful

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Amazing

This is a moving, insightful, and well-told story. Stephanie is rather like J.K.Rowling, it occurs to me, in that she pulled herself up out of really difficult circumstances because she knew she had something important inside her and actually had the grit to make it (her writing) happen. More power to her! I highly recommend this book.

26 people found this helpful

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Very Disappointed

This book was painful! The author complains incessantly and does not seem to have any perspective or emotional maturity. Total victim. I rarely write a negative review but I found so little to enjoy in this book that I could not finish it!

31 people found this helpful

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What????

I have a really hard time believing this book has been well received. To compare it to Nickel and Dined is offensive. This women’s poor child is being blamed for why she is struggling - this would be a good excuse if the author got pregnant at 14, 18, or even 20. This women was 28 when she got pregnant - no college degree by her choice because she wanted to work for minimum wage in coffee shops. Then suddenly she is pregnant at nearly 30, a perfectly acceptable time to have a child- even single, and feels stranded and abandoned because she can’t support herself. If she was going to college and wanted work above minimum wage jobs, she would have done so before 28 years old. Many people, without a college degree, have worked themselves up to comfortable living wages by 28. Having a child gave her the ambition to rise above - which is wonderful - but the whole book is a sob story about how hard it is working for minimum wage (when her only skills are minimum wage jobs - what does one expect?). I just found the whole story really annoying and hard to accept.

5 people found this helpful

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Disappointed

Stephanie land’s writing is descriptive, well spoken and talented. However, I was so disappointed in her attitude, her decisions and lack of more personal responsibility. She whined way too much and I expected more information on how social services and its processes effect so many people.

29 people found this helpful

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The most over-hyped book ever

Still scratching my head over the popularity of this book. I felt like I listened to a book-length pity party by an author who is particularly unlikable. And a horrible mother as well. For instance, her daughter is in such poor health a doctor admonishes her to do better. So when she gets a $4000 tax refund, she buys herself a diamond ring instead of improving her daughter’s living conditions. She tells us she fears for her daughter’s well-being when she is with her father, yet she repeatedly demands he take her when she needs a sitter. She has a huge chip on her shoulder and suspects everyone of victimizing her. She was born into privilege, but has managed to alienate her entire family. And the most irritating thing is she has a total lack of self-awareness. Don’t bother listening to this book. It’s not about what it’s like to be a maid, it’s about how to blame other’s for your own ineptitude.

78 people found this helpful

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Attitude is Everything

I bought this book because I thought I could relate to the author. I also raised my son on my own by cleaning homes. I loved the satisfying work I did for customers who always became friends. This author is just a crybaby! All of her problems - from single parenthood to working a job she "hates" - she brought on herself! She does NOT know how to professionally clean! She made everything hard on herself , then used that sad, stupid excuse for things not going her way. "It's not my fault." "I had no choice." Poor me! She couldn't get by with working and being on no less than NINE government assisted programs! Give me a break! I earned enough money cleaning houses that I didn't get any help from the government and I wouldn't have had it any other way! This girl needs an attitude adjustment. Be grateful for once. When a friend borrowed her a car after hers was wrecked in a crash, she barely mentioned being grateful for having a way to work, etc. I would love a book contract so I could let readers see how a single mother cleaning homes lived a fully enjoyable, thankful life. It's all about attitude!

37 people found this helpful

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Too Many Contradictions and Half Truths

I wanted to like this book. The author can sometimes describe the difficulty of the various governmental aid programs. I mostly liked the parts where she judged her clients. I always wanted to look into people's homes.

What really turned me off were the inconsistencies. The author makes some poor choices, but she never seems to admit it. She often seems to find a decent landing place, but then leaves to pursue her dream of Montana. She talks about a horrible person her ex is, but will leave her daughter with him for a week, "to finish up the semester." Meanwhile she will claim her daughter is left on the ex's boat with only random men around her. If she left her ex due to an abusive relationship, why would she have her daughter spend extra time with someone like that?

I hate to judge, but she spends the whole book judging others. If you read her articles, there are many contradictions to what is in the book. Even the happy ending appears false as she continues to write about her plight.

This is the type of person that when you read all her stories, you realize she is not giving you an honest piece of writing, but using the written word to justify her questionable decisions and blame the consequences on others. It seems she has so many people that have helped her, yet she only focuses on the negative aspects of those relationships.

Lastly, her California up-speak voice sounds entitled. Especially when you realize you are not getting the full story. Bad story and a bad listen.

31 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Life isn’t easy

Stephanie land is a fine writer. Her story was interesting. I understand the indignity of being poor and going without. What I don’t understand is the humiliation of doing service work. Work is work. No one is above doing what it takes to support our children. I’m surprised at the anger at the system that aided her, the humiliation she felt by cleaning and the attitude that she wasn’t responsible for the decisions that placed her in that position. Many do much better with much less without complaint.

14 people found this helpful