Maid: A book review

Posted on 10/17/2021 in misc

Maid

It’s been a while since I elevated a book review to the front page, so you know this book is special.

I finished Maid, by Stephanie Land last week. Put simply, it’s the best look at what life is really like for the working poor that you will read anytime soon, maybe ever. It’s been made into a Netflix special that is currently the hot thing on Netflix. Due to all the press from Netflix I knew her story had a happy ending. Without that, I may not have been able to finish the book. Stephanie does such a fabulous job of making the reader feel the stress, torment, and quite frankly, hunger, that defines life as a single mom on public assistance that you will find yourself emotionally drained after reading a few chapters. I’m not exaggerating when I say I had trouble sleeping the week I was reading this book. Imagine what it’s like for that not to be a book, but your reality. Go ahead - imagine it. Most of you reading here aren’t Republican, so I have faith you can do it.

The entire public assistance system in this country is backwards. It’s all built around shaming people for needing help, and making it difficult to in some cases impossible to get help. People who literally have to skip meals if they miss work are expected to miss work to stand in long lines completing pointless forms that may or may not be rejected on the whims of the petty bureaucrats that thrive in such a byzantine system. People who know their kids should be home sick instead send the kids to daycare, so they can work, because a sick but fed kid is better than a sick and hungry kid.

The system should default to providing help, then work to help people not need the assistance anymore. Instead, the system literally penalizes you making more money, or really doing anything to improve your situation.

Back to the book. A lot of it revolves around Stephanie’s relationship with the rich homeowners whose houses she cleans. And by relationship I mean there is no relationship. She is basically invisible to them, as are the millions and millions of service workers who spend their days making shit money while serving the needs of the rich that don’t even know, or care, that they exist.

Through it all, Stephanie gets by in spite of the stupid public assistance program, no help from her family, negative help from her ex, and every hurdle thrown at her by the healthcare, childcare, and every other “system” in this county. She raises her daughter and eventually claws her way to a college degree and out of poverty.

If you read that last paragraph and thought “The system works” you are the problem, not Stephanie and the millions like her, 99% of whom will not claw their way out of poverty like she did. Although there is a certain amount of irony in that she “does it” by quitting her job and moving to Bozeman, Montana to finish college on a combo of student loans and scholarships. Escaping poverty by loading up on student loans. The American Dream!*

Buy the book, or check it out from the library, or however you prefer to get books.

This author actually doesn’t know anything about Stephanie’s student loan debt level. But that ending was too good to pass up.