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Maid

Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive
Narrated by: Stephanie Land
Length: 8 hrs and 34 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (895 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

At 28, Stephanie Land's plans of breaking free from the roots of her hometown in the Pacific Northwest to chase her dreams of attending a university and becoming a writer were cut short when a summer fling turned into an unexpected pregnancy. She turned to housekeeping to make ends meet, and with a tenacious grip on her dream to provide her daughter the very best life possible, Stephanie worked days and took classes online to earn a college degree, and began to write relentlessly. She wrote the true stories that weren't being told: the stories of overworked and underpaid Americans. Of living on food stamps and WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) coupons to eat. Of the government programs that provided her housing, but that doubled as halfway houses. The aloof government employees who called her lucky for receiving assistance while she didn't feel lucky at all. She wrote to remember the fight, to eventually cut through the deep-rooted stigmas of the working poor. 

Maid explores the underbelly of upper-middle class America and the reality of what it's like to be in service to them. "I'd become a nameless ghost", Stephanie writes about her relationship with her clients, many of whom do not know her from any other cleaner, but who she learns plenty about. As she begins to discover more about her clients' lives - their sadness and love, too - she begins to find hope in her own path. 

Her compassionate, unflinching writing as a journalist gives voice to the "servant" worker, and those pursuing the American Dream from below the poverty line. Maid is Stephanie's story, but it's not her alone. It is an inspiring testament to the strength, determination, and ultimate triumph of the human spirit.

©2019 Stephanie Land (P)2019 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"[Maid is a] heartfelt and powerful debut memoir.... Land's love for her daughter...shines brightly through the pages of this beautiful, uplifting story of resilience and survival." (Publishers Weekly)

"What this book does well is illuminate the struggles of poverty and single-motherhood, the unrelenting frustration of having no safety net, the ways in which our society is systemically designed to keep impoverished people mired in poverty, the indignity of poverty by way of unmovable bureaucracy, and people's lousy attitudes toward poor people... Land's prose is vivid and engaging... [A] tightly-focused, well-written memoir... an incredibly worthwhile read." (Roxane Gay, New York Times best-selling author of Bad Feminist and Hunger: A Memoir)

"For readers who believe individuals living below the poverty line are lazy and/or intellectually challenged, this memoir is a stark, necessary corrective.... [T]he narrative also offers a powerful argument for increasing government benefits for the working poor during an era when most benefits are being slashed.... An important memoir that should be required reading for anyone who has never struggled with poverty." (Kirkus Reviews)

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    5 out of 5 stars
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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.

16 of 16 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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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.

44 of 46 people found this review 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!

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Jean
  • Rochester, NY United States
  • 02-16-19

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.

21 of 24 people found this review 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.

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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Whiny and Unlikable

I couldn’t finish this book and returned it for a refund after a few hours. The author comes across as whiny and is impossible to like. She complains about having to clean pubic hairs off toilets, but then admits to snooping through personal items like prescriptions and receipts. She claims that judgement over her use of WIC and EBT was rampant, but also admits to being unable to read her vouchers and follow simple instructions. As a former WIC recipient I can tell you that it’s not that hard to read what the coupon is for and pick up the correct item. I stopped listening entirely when she complained that WIC no longer covered organic milk.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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Pity Party for 1 Please!

I was so disappointed in this book. I had such high hopes for a story of perseverance, hard work and struggle to come out on the other side, but was left feeling empty. Stephanie chose to have a child at 28, while working as a waitress, with a man she knew for 4 months. She continually labels her daughter's father as abusive but other than site their different arguments and back-and-forth name calling, I felt as if she really didn't know him at all, clearly, and they couldn't ever get along. He was still her daughter's father and from what I could tell, he really did want a place in his daughter's life.

Other things I just couldn't get past: She spewed hate for her clients that smoked but she smoked herself. She spent part of her $4,000 tax refund on a diamond ring instead of looking into a new place to live for she and her daughter while her daughter continued to get sick from the black mold growing in their apartment. She committed insurance fraud after getting into a car accident and whined about the fact that she couldn't buy organic milk for her daughter anymore on the WIC program. She complained about dropping her daughter off at daycare when her daughter was sick and not being able to stay home with her but did nothing to look into getting a different job that afforded her the time she did want to spend with her daughter.

Overall, Stephanie's view of life and those around her is not realistic. I thought she would have taken all of the hardship in her life and learned from it, turning it into good. Nope- she didn't. She had another child with a different man. Then, split from him. Then, got married to someone different who tried to kill her. Newsflash Stephanie - get some counseling, girl. You have children that you should actually worry about, not just your narcissistic self.

5 of 6 people found this review 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.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Great writing and imagery but needs a new narrator

First, I am sure that the production went with Ms. Land as the narrator thinking could tell us the book with her voice. She does speak clearly and is easy to understand. But several times I kept wishing they had gone with a professional narrator. Which does take you 'out of the book'. It came across as emotionally flat and rushed. Which may have been because she was trying to hold back her emotion and hurry through the memories. I can understand that! But it was also very fast in pace overall. I am not diminishing her writing capabilities only addressing the Audiobook nature of the book. Secondly, as far as the story: the daily hardships that she documented were very clear which I do think many people can use some additional perspective on. So many Americans seem completely ignorant of the fact that MOST of our country live paycheck to paycheck. And that is a dual income family. This book lets us imagine the life of a single mother and her struggle to support herself and her family. And it was hard and it sucked. But she does it because she loves her daughter and she wants to do better for herself and her family. The book is well written it came from her heart and that does come through. Overall it is probably a better read not an audiobook. That way you can use your own ‘voice’.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Engaging story

I enjoyed the story, sympathized with the author’s struggles, but was frequently disappointed by the judgmental tone and somewhat self centered self and congratulatory references. The repeated description of her sacrifices for her daughter took away from the stronger aspects of the story. The author distributes blame for her situation to many involved in her life without much concern about the struggles those others had themselves faced.

I think the vivid detail of the difficulties of the poor in our society makes this an important novel not only for the more privileged but also for those struggling to pull themselves up from those circumstances.

I just kept yearning for more focus on her relationship with her daughter and the positive aspects of the help that she received.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful