Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive
Instant New York Times bestselling memoir and the inspiration for the Netflix Original Series
“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.
What countries is Maid available in?
MAID is available in several foreign languages with print editions available now in the following countries:
How long did it take to write Maid?
“After spending almost a year planning it through perfecting a proposal with my agent, the actual writing process was pretty quick. A friend of mine suggested going straight through–start to finish without looking back or editing–until I was done, and that’s what I did. At first I tried to keep up with freelancing, then discovered, after four months, that I was a third of the way into my year to complete a memoir manuscript and had barely 15,000 words. So, I buckled down, and kept a tally of how many words I’d added to the total amount every day. Some days were only 1,000, others were closer to 4,000 or more. While the physical action of typing out a complete 75,000-word manuscript on my tiny 11-inch MacBook Air only took three or four months, I’d spent years working through the content in my head, chewing on it in my mind, mentally going over the pieces of the arc and how I would shape it into a story. Then, there came the edits, which took another three straight months of constant work, six-to-twelve-hour days, from November to January, only taking Christmas off. Whenever people ask me this question, I give them the short answer of six or seven months. That seems like a good number.” – Stephanie
What was the inspiration for Maid?
Maid began as an essay I wrote in college. I was in my third year, in my first writing workshop, taught by David Gates, a real writer, and I had to come up with ten pages to submit to the rest of the class, most of whom were ten years younger than me and whose essays could be summed up with one of two titles: “My last year of high school and my first year of college” and “The year I went abroad.” My classmates didn’t know what to say about an essay written by a 33-year-old single mom who had to scramble from scrubbing toilets to picking up a kid at preschool, her car breaking down along the way. To quell the silence, David Gates read the paragraph about the Sad House out loud to the class. He’d never done that before. When he finished, he leaned back, shook his head, chuckled, and said “Solid gold, man. Solid gold.” I worked on the essay some more and showed it to another writing instructor, Debra Magpie Earling. We met at a coffee shop. I handed it to her to read, got up to get a cup of coffee, and when I came back she was sitting there, her hand on her mouth, completely enthralled. When she finished reading, she looked up and said, “Stephanie. This is going to be a book.” I worked on it some more, and used it to apply for the college’s MFA program and got rejected, and mostly forgot about it until I needed to submit something for an ad asking for essay submissions by Vox Media. “Dear Editor,” I wrote in my email. “Here’s an essay I wrote when I used to clean houses,” and I copy/pasted in the paragraph David Gates smiled about in class. They paid me $500 for it, which at the time was the most money I thought I’d ever get paid for an article.” – Stephanie
“My happiest day hasn’t happened yet but it’s about to.”
“MAID” is an American drama limited series on Netflix created by Molly Smith Metzler. Inspired by Stephanie Land’s memoir, “Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive,” the show revolves around Alex, a young mother who escapes an abusive relationship and faces the challenges of providing for her daughter. Alex takes up a job cleaning houses for Value Maids as she navigates her way through a dysfunctional family, an abusive ex-boyfriend, and the complexities of government assistance. Despite her circumstances, she dreams of becoming a writer. The series is set near Seattle, with Alex frequently taking a ferry to the fictional Fisher Island.
Upon its release in October 2021, “MAID” gained significant attention and popularity. It achieved an estimated viewership of 67 million households on Netflix, making it the platform’s fourth most-watched show of the year. The series garnered critical acclaim, with praise directed towards its writing, tone, and performances, particularly Margaret Qualley’s portrayal of Alex. “MAID” received multiple accolades, including three Primetime Emmy Award nominations and three Golden Globe nominations. Margaret Qualley earned recognition with nominations for a Critics’ Choice Television Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award. The American Film Institute also honored the series by including it in their list of the top ten best television programs of 2021.
In the month following the premiere of “MAID,” the National Domestic Violence Hotline experienced an unprecedented surge in calls, surpassing the number of calls received in any other month throughout its 25-year history. The powerful impact of the series resonated with audiences, prompting individuals to seek support and resources from the hotline. This response highlighted the significant influence of “MAID” in raising awareness about domestic violence and encouraging survivors to reach out for help.
Read more about Maid Netflix