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Maid summary

Stephanie Land

Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive

4.1 (135 ratings)
25 mins

Brief summary

In 'Maid', Stephanie Land recounts her experience working as a maid while raising her daughter in poverty. She sheds light on the struggles of the working poor and the challenges they face in trying to make ends meet in America.

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    Stephanie Land had big dreams before she became a single mother and a maid.

    At the beginning of this story, Stephanie was in her late 20s and had recently moved to Port Townsend, Washington – a small seaside city on the northeast tip of the Olympic Peninsula. Despite having deep roots in the surrounding northwestern region of the state, she felt disconnected from them. Both sides of her family had lived in nearby Skagit County, where she was born, for multiple generations. But when she was seven, her family moved to Anchorage, Alaska, where she grew up and spent her young adulthood.

    By returning to northwest Washington, Stephanie intended to return to her roots – but not for long. Port Townsend was only supposed to be a pitstop on her journey away from Alaska. Her ultimate destination was another far-flung city: Missoula, Montana.

    Stephanie had always loved books and dreamed of becoming a writer. And ever since she read John Steinbeck’s evocative descriptions of Montana in his travelogue, Travels with Charley, she had dreamed of living in “Big Sky Country” – a common nickname for the state. In Missoula, she envisioned her dreams coming together. The city is home to the University of Montana, which has a creative writing program she had always wanted to attend. But first, she needed to save up enough money to afford the move to Missoula, which was an expensive place to live. Unfortunately, employment opportunities were scarce in Port Townsend, and most of them were low-wage jobs in the service industry. Stephanie cobbled together an income by working at a cafe, a dog daycare and a farmer’s market.

    Then she met Jamie. He was a young man in a similar situation as her – lacking a college education, working odd jobs and planning to move somewhere else as soon as he could. For him it was Portland, Oregon. He lived in a tiny camper trailer filled with books by writers like Charles Bukowski and Jean-Paul Sartre.

    Stephanie was attracted to Jamie’s literary tastes. They started a relationship, and she moved into his trailer – but this was just supposed to be a temporary arrangement. By splitting the trailer’s $300 rent, they would save up enough money to pursue their dreams. As soon as they could afford it, they planned on parting ways – he to Portland, she to Missoula.

    But then, right after her 28th birthday, life threw Stephanie a curveball – she discovered she was pregnant.

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    What is Maid about?

    Maid (2019) is a memoir that tells a powerful story about a low-income single mother’s experience raising her daughter, working as a maid and struggling to get by in the United States today. A deeply personal account, it also has broader implications, providing insight into the social, cultural and psychological dimensions of poverty.

    Maid Review

    Maid (2019) by Stephanie Land sheds light on the struggles and obstacles faced by the working poor in America. Here's why this book is a must-read:

    • Offers a raw and honest portrayal of the author's personal experiences as a single mother working as a maid, capturing the daily challenges and hardships in a relatable way.
    • Examines the systemic issues that contribute to poverty and the cycle of low-wage work, sparking important conversations about social inequality and the need for change.
    • Highlighting the resilience and determination of individuals barely making ends meet, it offers a compelling narrative that inspires empathy and understanding.

    Who should read Maid?

    • Those interested in learning about poverty in the United States  
    • Professionals wondering what it’s like to be trapped in a menial job
    • Whoever wants to hear an honest story of resilience

    About the Author

    On her way to becoming a writer, Stephanie Land overcame many challenges – an abusive relationship, descent into poverty and an exhausting job as a maid and single mother. She is now a freelance writer who has been published in the New York Times, the New York Review of Books, the Washington Post, the Guardian, the Nation and Vox. She’s worked with the author Barbara Ehrenreich, participating in her Economic Hardship Reporting Project.

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    Maid FAQs 

    What is the main message of Maid?

    The main message of Maid is the struggles and resilience of a single mother working as a house cleaner.

    How long does it take to read Maid?

    The reading time for Maid varies. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Maid a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Maid is a must-read, providing an eye-opening account of the challenges faced by working-class Americans.

    Who is the author of Maid?

    The author of Maid is Stephanie Land.

    What to read after Maid?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Maid, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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    • How to Be Alone by Sara Maitland
    • Evicted by Matthew Desmond
    • Stillness Is the Key by Ryan Holiday
    • 13 Things Mentally Strong Couples Don't Do by Amy Morin
    • Nickel & Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich
    • 12 Rules For Life by Jordan B. Peterson
    • How Not to Age by Michael Greger
    • The Age of AI by Henry Kissinger