Cover image for Maid : hard work, low pay, and a mother's will to survive / Stephanie Land ; foreword Barbara Ehrenreich.
Maid : hard work, low pay, and a mother's will to survive / Stephanie Land ; foreword Barbara Ehrenreich.
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Hachette Books, 2019.

Physical Description:
xiv, 270 pages ; 24 cm.
Personal Subject:


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
306.87432092 LAN Book Adult General Collection

On Order




Evicted meets Nickel and Dimed in Stephanie Land's memoir about working as a maid, a beautiful and gritty exploration of poverty in America. Includes a foreword by Barbara Ehrenreich.

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.

Author Notes

Journalist Stephanie Land's work has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, Vox, Salon, and many other outlets. She focuses on social and economic justice as a writing fellow through both the Center for Community Change and the Economic Hardship Reporting Project. Her title's include Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive and A Confident Parent: A Pediatrician's Guide to Caring for Your Little One --Without Losing Your Joy, Your Mind, or Yourself.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

In her heartfelt and powerful debut memoir, Land describes the struggles she faced as a young single mother living in poverty. "My daughter learned to walk in a homeless shelter," she writes, before chronicling her difficult circumstances. Land got pregnant at 28, then left an abusive relationship and went on to raise her daughter, Mia, while working as a part-time house cleaner in Skagit Valley, Wash. Later, using public assistance, Land moved to a moldy studio apartment and got her daughter into daycare. While housecleaning, Land imagines the lives of the clients, whom she knows intimately through their habits and possessions (their apparent unhappiness despite financial comfort fosters compassion as well as gratitude for her own modest space), and experiences the humiliating stigma of being poor in America ("You're welcome!" a stranger snarls at the checkout as she pays with food stamps). Even while working, Land continued to follow her dream of becoming a writer. She began a journal and took online classes, and eventually attended the University of Montana in Missoula. Land's love for her daughter ("We were each other's moon and sun") shines brightly through the pages of this beautiful, uplifting story of resilience and survival. Agent: Jeff Kleinman, Folio Literary. (Jan.) c Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

New York Review of Books Review

BLACK LEOPARD, RED WOLF, by Marlon James. (Riverhead, $30.) James, who calls his new epic fantasy an African "Game of Thrones," conjures the literary equivalent of a Marvel Comics universe in this novel (the first of a projected trilogy) about the search for a missing heir. THE DREAMERS, by Karen Thompson Walker. (Random House, $27.) In Walker's second novel, written with symphonic sweep and generous attention to parent-child relationships, panic spreads as swiftly as the sleeping sickness that's paralyzing a small California town. UNEXAMPLED COURAGE: The Blinding of Sgt. Isaac Woodard and the Awakening of President Harry S. Truman and Judge J. Waties Waring, by Richard Gergel. (Sarah Crichton/Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $27.) Gergel's riveting history examines a 1946 legal case that spurred the federal government to act in defense of racial equality at the dawn of the civil rights movement. MAID: Hard Work, Low Pay and a Mother's Will to Survive, by Stephanie Land. (Hachette, $27.) In her unstinting memoir - a portrait of working-class poverty in America - Land scrapes by on $9 an hour cleaning houses to support herself and her young daughter. THE UNWINDING OF THE MIRACLE: A Memoir of Life, m Death, and Everything That Comes After, by Julie gC"8 Yip-Williams. (Random House, $27.) Written before her 147 death last year from cancer at the age of 42, YipWilliams's book is a remarkable woman's moving exhortation to the living. AN INDEFINITE SENTENCE: A Personal History of Outlawed Love and Sex, by Siddharth Dube. (Atria, $28.) Dube, an activist for H.I.V. patients in India, here recounts growing up gay in a society that would not accept him. Confronted with the AIDS epidemic, Dube recognized its link to an "essential longing for sex and love, and with being outlawed, shamed and persecuted." THE BELL RANG, written and illustrated by James E. Ransome. (Atheneum, $17.99; ages 4 to 8.) Through the eyes of a slave, this picture book offers a bittersweet slice of plantation life in which innocence, familial love and safety are juxtaposed with pain, loss and the resilience of the enslaved. EINSTEIN'S SHADOW: A Black Hole, a Band of Astronomers, and the Quest to See the Unseeable, by Seth Fletcher. (Ecco/HarperCollins, $26.99.) What does a black hole look like? The scientists Fletcher profiles aim to produce the first real picture. THE ROOTS OF RAP: 16 Bars on the Pillars of Hip-Hop, by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Frank Morrison. (Little Bee, $18.99; ages 4 to 8.) Hip-hop's origins in jazz, poetry and urban culture come alive in this picture-book tribute. The full reviews of these and other recent books are on the web:

Library Journal Review

Land's memoir describes the disappointment and hard luck of a single mother with a young daughter. Without a supportive family, Land took care of herself and her daughter by working as a housekeeper and occasional landscaper. She supplemented her earnings with government programs such as housing assistance, food stamps, WIC (Women, Infants and Children), and Medicaid for her child. She dreamed of earning a college degree from the University of Montana and becoming a writer, and though she took online courses in her limited free time, Land was discouraged by how long it would take to achieve her goal. After encouragement from an associate and a housekeeping client, Land finally moved toward a better future in Missoula. The author narrates her own story flawlessly. Verdict Recommended to listeners with an interest in contemporary working conditions and those who enjoyed Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed. ["An illuminating read that should inspire outrage, hope, and change": LJ 12/18 review of the Hachette hc.]-Ann Weber, Los Gatos, CA © Copyright 2019. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.