In this absorbing memoir, single mom Land chronicles her life cleaning homes in the Port Townshend area, alternating her own journey with profiles of her cleaning jobs. The stuff of homes often reveals the nature of its inhabitants, both in what’s there and what’s missing. Even the particular grime of a space can tell a story. It’s a narrative that offers an insight to working life in the vein of The Long Haul with some social justice insights that will appeal to fans of Nickel and Dimed. One particularly galling response to her need for public assistance is the tendency of strangers and quote-unquote friends to say ‘you’re welcome.’ As dire as the situation gets (compromised living situations, not enough money for her daughter Mia, hostile exes, opportunities that don’t pan out), Land never loses sight of her goal, to get to Missoula to further her education, and Maid had me cheering the author on as she slowly finds her footing.— Daniel Goldin
February 2019 Indie Next List
“Stephanie Land’s Maid is a must-read of the highest order, a memoir of a single mother struggling to survive while performing the household labor that many of us take for granted. While at once deeply personal — you’ll fall hard for Stephanie and her daughter, Mia — it is also essential social commentary about how we treat the myriad domestic laborers who toil in our homes, oftentimes unseen and unappreciated. Read it alongside Nickel and Dimed or Evicted for a stunning, unforgettable look at American poverty and determination.”
— Emilie Sommer, East City Bookshop, Washington, DC
Summer 2020 Reading Group Indie Next List
“In a time when most in our country are falling further and further behind the ‘one percent,’ Maid tells the story of author Stephanie Land’s abrupt and unexpected slide from her middle-class upbringing to an impoverished adulthood as a single mother. As a first-person narrative window into the way increasing numbers of Americans are forced to live, Maid will strike a chord with the readership of Hillbilly Elegy and White Trash.”
— Jill Miner, Saturn Booksellers, Gaylord, MI
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 found 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 as a "nameless ghost" who quietly shared in her clients' triumphs, tragedies, and deepest secrets. Driven to carve out a better life for her family, she cleaned by day and took online classes by night, writing relentlessly as she worked toward earning a college degree. She wrote of the true stories that weren't being told: of living on food stamps and WIC coupons, of government programs that barely provided housing, of aloof government employees who shamed her for receiving what little assistance she did. Above all else, she wrote about pursuing the myth of the American Dream from the poverty line, all the while slashing through deep-rooted stigmas of the working poor.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.
About the Author
STEPHANIE LAND's work has been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post, The Atlantic, the Guardian, and many others. Her writing focuses on social and economic justice.
"A single mother's personal, unflinching look at America's class divide, a description of the tightrope many families walk just to get by, and a reminder of the dignity of all work." —President Barack Obama, "Obama's 2019 Summer Reading List"
Amazon, Best Books of the Month
sheer terror that comes with being poor, the exhausting vigilance of knowing
that any misstep or twist of fate will push you deeper into the hole."
"Stephanie Lands memoir [Maid] is a bracing one."—The Atlantic
"An eye-opening journey into the lives of the working poor."
—People, Perfect for Your Book Club
it's the impression of precariousness that is most memorable."
"[Land's] book has the needed quality of reversing the direction of the gaze. Some people who employ domestic labor will read her account. Will they see themselves in her descriptions of her clients? Will they offer their employees the meager respect Land fantasizes about? Land survived the hardship of her years as a maid, her body exhausted and her brain filled with bleak arithmetic, to offer her testimony. It's worth listening to."
—New York Times Book Review
"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, -
"Maid provides an important look at the morass of difficulties faced by the working poor."—Elle Magazine
"[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, starred review, -
"Raw...Land [is] a gifted storyteller...Offers moments of levity...[Maid] shows we need to create an economy in which single motherhood and the risk of poverty do not go hand in hand."—Ms. Magazine
"A heartfelt memoir."
—Harvard Business Review
"Maid delves into her time working for the upper middle class in the service industry, and in it, uncovers the true strength of the human spirit."—San Diego Entertainer, Books to Kick Off Your New Year
though, Land gives
the depleting anxiety and isolation that accompany motherhood in poverty
millions of Americans."
display in her memoir, in which she renders vividly the back-breaking and often
surreal work of deep-cleaning strangers' homes while navigating the baffling
bureaucracies of government assistance programs."
book, with its unfussy prose and clear voice, holds you. 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."
housekeeper to make ends meet...Captur[es] the experience of hardworking
Americans who make little money and are often invisible to their
mother living in poverty as she sought to provide a stable and
predictable home for her daughter in a situation that was anything but
stable and predictable."
overworked people who serve the upper-middle class for a living."
"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
marginal tax rate, Land is the anomaly not only in surviving to tell the
tale - and in telling it with such compelling economy."
judgments about what we mean by the value of hard work in America and societal
expectations of motherhood."
"A moving, intimate, essential account of life in poverty."
—Entertainment Weekly, Must List
"The next time you hear someone say they think poor people are lazy, hand them a copy of Maid."—Minneapolis Star-Tribune
"Stephanie Land's heartrending book, Maid, provides a trenchant reminder that something is amiss with the American Dream and gives voice to the millions of 'working poor' toiling in a country that needs them but doesn't want to see them. A sad and hopeful tale of being on the outside looking in, the author makes us wonder how'd we fare scrubbing and vacuuming away the detritus of an affluence that always seems beyond reach."—Steve Dublanica, New York Times bestselling author of Waiter Rant, -
"In a perfect world, Maid would become required reading in schools across the country."—North Bay Bohemian
"Maid is a testament to a young mother's survival skills - a constantly shifting balance of back-breaking labor, single-parenting responsibilities, complying with rules and regulations, college course-work, attitude adjustments and diplomacy on all fronts... The book is a gift of hope and joy for anyone lucky enough to see beyond blame."—Wicked Local
"Maid is an important work of journalism that offers an insightful and unique perspective on a segment of the working poor from someone who has lived it."—Amazon Book Review
"Maid is a beautiful book and a sad book and even, at times, a joyful book--a story of a mother's love for her daughter--but most of all it's an important book about the U.S. economy and what it does to people."—Daily Kos
"Maid-part Educated, part Hillbilly Elegy-is an eye-opening portrait of how privilege and the female working class can commingle."—Glamour