“The particulars of Land’s struggle are sobering,
but it’s the impression of precariousness that is most memorable.”
―The New Yorker
“Maid isn’t about how hard work can save you but about how false that idea is. It’s one woman’s story of inching out of the dirt and how the middle class turns a blind eye to the poverty lurking just a few rungs below — and it’s one worth reading.”
“For readers who believe individuals living below the poverty line are lazy and/or intellectually challenged, this memoir is a stark, necessary corrective…. An important memoir that should be required reading for anyone who has never struggled with poverty.”
―Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“Stephanie Land strips class divisions bare in her phenomenal memoir Maid, providing a profoundly important expose on the economy of being a single mother in America. This is the warrior cry from the tired, the poor, the huddled masses, reminding us to change our lives and remember how to see each other. Standing ovation. Not since Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed has the working woman’s real life been so honestly illuminated.”
—Lidia Yuknavitch, author of The Book of Joan
“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 bestselling author of Bad Feminist and Hunger: A Memoir
“Marry the evocative first person narrative of Educated with the kind of social criticism seen in Nickel and Dimed and you’ll get a sense of the remarkable book you hold in your hands. In Maid, Stephanie Land, a gifted storyteller with an eye for details you’ll never forget, exposes what it’s like to exist in America as a single mother, working herself sick cleaning our dirty toilets, one missed paycheck away from destitution. It’s a perspective we seldom see represented firsthand-and one we so desperately need right now. Timely, urgent, and unforgettable, this is memoir at its very best.”
─Susannah Cahalan, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness
“A work full of integrity and of the grit, graft and grace that comes with it. Stephanie Land’s memoir is an essential manual in the sort of resilience, hope and diligence many of us will be fortunate enough to never experience. Maid comes from the gut not the gutter. Stephanie Land was meant to be a writer.”
─Lisa Blower, award-winning author of Sitting Ducks
“My daughter learned to walk in a homeless shelter.”
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 finds 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. “I’d become a nameless ghost,” she writes about her relationship with her clients—and yet as she learns more about their lives—their triumphs, tragedies and deepest secrets—she begins to find hope in her own path.
Driven to carve out a better life for herself and her daughter, she cleans by day and takes classes online by night, writing relentlessly as she works toward earning a college degree. Piece by piece, her compassionate, unflinching writing gives voice to the “servant” worker, illuminating the untold stories of millions of Americans just like her. She writes of surviving on food stamps and WIC coupons for food. Of government programs that provided her housing, but doubled as halfway houses. Of aloof government employees who called her lucky for receiving assistance when she didn’t feel lucky at all. Above it all, she writes about pursuing the American Dream from the poverty line, all the while slashing through deep-rooted stigmas of the working poor.
As empathetic as it is eye-opening, 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.
Stephanie Land‘s work has been featured in The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, The Guardian, Vox, Salon, and many other outlets. She lives in Missoula, Montana.