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Ratings and Book Reviews (4 31 star ratings
4 reviews
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4.3 out of 5
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  • 1 person found this review helpful

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    A hard look at one woman's journey

    Many thanks to NetGalley, Hachette Books, and Stephanie Land for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are 100% my own and independent of receiving an advanced copy. Stephanie Land has written a raw, honest, in-your-face book about what it is like to be poor, a single mother and working at what is considered to be menial labour. I found this read difficult and uncomfortable and I think that is what she wants you to feel. As I started to read, I was sympathetic, feeling for her plight in life. She made difficult choices and was left without a lot of options. She writes in the afterwards that she was lucky because she saw a different way of life as a child. She knew there was more out there. She notes that for people who are born into poverty, without the ability to experience anything different, and faced with minimal options, it is very difficult to imagine a better life for yourself. I don’t think we realize, if we are lucky enough to be middle class, how many opportunities we have, expectations, support, etc. so that if we want to, we can make a good life for us and for our children. But as the books went on and on and on and I got to about 50% of the way through I felt like I couldn’t take it anymore. It said, in the beginning of the book, that this has a happy ending. I wanted to get to that part already. I couldn’t hear anymore about how tired she was, how her kid was sick, and then I stopped and thought wow! I can’t handle reading about it and she had to live it! How did she pull herself out of it, I’ll never know that kind of strength. I hope I don’t have to have that kind of strength. It does have a happy ending and it really makes you think about so many issues. Land tells you, in no uncertain terms, what it is like to work as a maid. I am fortunate enough to have someone to help clean our house, it is something we scrimp and save to be able to afford, since I am not able to do it anymore. I had to take a good look in the mirror and think if I had ever treated or spoke to our helpers, the way some people had spoken to Land. I use a service, similar to the one Land worked for, and I am not sure if they are making a decent living wage or not. I know they do 2 sometimes 3 houses in a day and I really hadn’t considered their physical pain that they must feel, doing their job, day after day. I know that I don’t look down on their line of work because I am not above scrubbing a toilet myself. When Land describes cleaning those bathrooms, I think I threw up in my mouth a little. Uch!! I certainly hope that no one has felt like that in my home. What struck me the most was the loneliness. I think I was prepared to hear about the fatigue, the pain, the worrying about her child, the kid being sick and not being able to go to daycare. I had some of the same worries, but I was not alone. I didn’t have to deal with an abusive ex, an absentee family, and I had friends. I didn’t have the shame of poverty that she felt and how that would make a person isolate themselves. To just crave some human contact. I worry about money, but I haven’t had to go hungry. I can’t imagine going through a government process of trying to get help, the amount of forms, dealing with that kind of prejudice, and still getting up every day, going to work, making a home for your child, playing with them, putting them to bed and doing it all over again, day after day. How about trying to get a decent place to live and having landlords not want to rent to you because you are on assistance. It honestly felt like being pounded on the head with a shovel, pushing you into the ground and the more you try and dig your way out, the more you get pounded. Having one little crisis and it devastates you. I learned a lot of lessons. Some I knew, but they bore repeating. First, to be grateful for what you have. Land found so many things to be grateful for. The second was she realized that people with big houses and lots of stuff weren’t any happier than she was. Stop wanting stuff. That isn’t what will make you happy. Stop looking at what other people have and being envious. The most important thing that struck me, and I think this is why she was able to make a better future is that she counted on herself. If she needed comfort or love, she had to rely only on herself to get that. She used mantras of telling herself she was loved, she was enough. Really, in life, we only have ourselves. I realized that when I got sick. I had family and friends and support, but when the chips were down, I only had myself to dig out of whatever hole I was in. You are your biggest asset and you are enough. Whatever upheaval was going on in her daughters life, Land decide that she would be the constant. She would be reliable, show up when she said she would, be on time, be there no matter what. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t easy and that’s what she shows us. She had panic attacks, her child would have tantrums and nothing was easy. But in all that upheav
  • 1 person found this review helpful

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    Enjoyable book

    In Maid, Stephanie Land recounts what it is like to be a young, single mother, relying on social assistance to help make ends meet. We are privy to the struggle, not only financial, but trying to be a good mother to her young daughter. She deals with the guilt of not being there, of not being able to provide as she would want to. Of wanting to give her daughter more. For me, this is the most gripping part of the story. The relationship between mother and daughter. Through her work as a maid, we are introduced to her clients and her colleagues, their quirks, their compassion - or lack there of. What is so interesting is how the work and her situation make Stephanie feel isolated and alone. It's not a feeling I would immediately associate with someone on social assistance. She deals daily with the judgement of a society that had preconceived notions of who she is because she needs social assistance to survive. Some of the encounters she details are down-right heartbreaking. Hopefully this story will bring some enlightenment and help eradicate these faulty notions. While I enjoyed this book, I kept wanting there to be more and for it to dig a little deeper into her personal relationships and how she became so isolated.
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    Feel sorry for me.

    I was interested in this book as I too, during a layoff from the office in which I worked decided to try housekeeping. How hard can it be? I thought. Very hard, as it turned out. Anyway, while I enjoy the author's style and story-telling skill, I am irked by the constant tone of self-pity. We're not talking about a 16-year-old girl who messed up, but a mature, 28-year-old woman who never bothered to get a real job and learn to support herself. She hooks up with an abusive loser and thinks having a child with him is an option. The author still can't support herself and her child, since it seems child support payments from the loser are minimal. Surprise there. She hooks up with another man she does not love, just to get a stable roof over the heads of herself and her daughter and endlessly whines and complains about the lack of government money for her and the awful conditions she endures while cleaning houses. Poor, poor me. As my mother used to say, "You made your bed. Now lie in it." I have not finished the book but not once so far has Stephanie ever accepted blame for her situation and the choices she made. It's all someone else's fault. I feel sorry for her daughter, but not her.
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    Resilience

    Such a wonderful and inspirational story. I was glad that Stephane's hafd work and commitment to her daughter paid off.
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