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The author clearly states in the introduction to the book that she has an agenda, is choosing the locations for that reason, is not actually going to find out what it is really like to be poor, and is privileged. At least she's honest.
That's why the book works. All of the negative reviews are pointing out exactly what the author is trying to get across. And, from what some reviewers wrote, the need for this book still exists.
I find this book to be an interesting look into cultural assumptions and understandings about poverty, privilege, and work that is definitely worth a listen or a read.
29 of 33 people found this review helpful
Barbara Ehrenreich is a master of her surroundings. In this book, she offers candid and daunting insight into the world of low-wage laborers. Her reflections are not limited to the financial woes of the poor but expand into their social culture and daily realities.
The detail in this book is helpful at times while frivolous at others, which is why I think the other reviewers missed the point of Ehrenreich's message. Yes, she does reveal the working class conditions of certain professions in Portland, Key West and Minneapolis to demonstrate that they are consistent (and demeaning) in the many different regions of America. Yes, she does demonstrate that the negative side of capitalism is a reality for poor Americans. But that does not appear to be her underlying message. Instead, I think Ehrenreich's point is that people deserve to be treated with respect and decency regardless of their occupation.
A word about the narration: This is definitely a book in which the voice of the narrator must fit the tone and context of the author's message. Ehrenreich would have done this audio book justice had she served as the narrator. For the most part Christine McMurdo-Wallis was able to grasp the feeling and tone of each moment of Ehrenreich's experiment, but at times I found it distracting and difficult to listen to her because her voice is quite refined and sophisticated. (It is rather difficult to tap into an author's point of view as an impostor in tough working conditions when the narrator's voice resembles that of Lauren Bacall.) This may explain why other reviewers perceived the author as whiny, condescending and elitist.
14 of 17 people found this review helpful