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Building on her groundbreaking Harper's cover story, "The End of Retirement", which brought attention to these formerly settled members of the middle class, Jessica Bruder follows one such RVer, Linda, between physically taxing seasonal jobs and reunions of her new van-dweller family, or "vanily". Bruder tells a compelling, eye-opening tale of both the economy's dark underbelly and the extraordinary resilience, creativity, and hope of these hardworking, quintessential Americans - many of them single women - who have traded rootedness for the dream of a better life.
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By Sara on 06-14-18
Powerful And Disturbing
I am not sure when I have been so totally engaged, enthralled and horrified by the dire circumstances presented in a book. This nonfiction economics title presented the real life struggles of Americans, often from the aging, 60+ demographic, trying to survive the aftermath of the 2008 real estate bubble and the financial crisis. Bruder researched her topic first hand and to me, did an excellent job conveying her message in the book. The author really helped the reader understand how something like this could happen. Bruner did this in a sympathetic, direct and insightful way which made the story completely relatable.
I'll be honest that I was nervous about listening and avoided the book for a while after it was in my library. Then, once I finally started the title I listened almost nonstop. The writing starts out upbeat and occasionally actually made me laugh. In the end, however, it had me reexamining my choices and left me feeling deeply concerned for how dire life has become in America as the middle class seems to disappear.
Bruder simply states the "what is" of the situation. No solutions are offered. I will say that if you need encouragement to save for retirement this is the book that will scare you into taking action. The book opened my eyes to a disastrous situation that seems to be getting worse, not better. Now what?
22 of 23 people found this review helpful
By Gillian on 03-07-18
Eccentric Hobby? No--Survival Skills!
I first ran across working nomads in a piece on CBS Sunday Morning. It was winter, and an older couple was delighting in hitting the road, finding places where the older gentleman could be a Santa, and the older woman could work in a gift shop, all the time looking like a Mrs. Claus. They seemed deliriously happy.
Enter Nomadland, and all of that is turned on its head. Here, Bruder follows mostly Linda, a woman in her mid-60s, on her quest to find ways to make ends meet. We meet others, we meet depressing and challenging work environments, we meet jamborees where like-minded people come together.
While Bruder's prose is sometimes lovely, and her depiction of the nomads is always gentle, I found the book to be somewhat frightening. Make no mistake: It's a good book. It's just that it plays upon my deepest fear of being one illness away from homelessness. (And by the way, the nomads are HOUSELESS! Don't tick them off!)
Karen White turns in a 50-50 performance as she always does (she butchered Daring Greatly; she shone in Nothing to Envy)--sometimes she's on target, but sometimes her delivery is dry and robotic.
Still, and engaging book. But it's kinda sorta too depressing to spend a whole credit on...
79 of 89 people found this review helpful