Hand to Mouth

Hand to Mouth

Living in Bootstrap America

Book - 2014
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"An examination of what it means to be poor in America today"--
"I've been waiting for this book for a long time. Well, not this book, because I never imagined that the book I was waiting for would be so devastatingly smart and funny, so consistently entertaining and unflinchingly on target. In fact, I would like to have written it myself - if, that is, I had lived Linda Tirado's life and extracted all the hard lessons she has learned. I am the author of Nickel and Dimed, which tells the story of my own brief attempt, as a semi-undercover journalist, to survive on low-wage retail and service jobs. Tirado is the real thing." -from the foreword by Barbara Ehrenreich, New York Times bestselling author of Nickel and Dimed We in America have certain ideas of what it means to be poor. Linda Tirado, in her signature brutally honest yet personable voice, takes all of these preconceived notions and smashes them to bits. She articulates not only what it is to be working poor in America (yes, you can be poor and live in a house and have a job, even two), but what poverty is truly like-on all levels. In her thought-provoking voice, Tirado discusses how she went from lower-middle class, to sometimes middle class, to poor and everything in between, and in doing so reveals why "poor people don't always behave the way middle-class America thinks they should." --
Publisher: New York :, G.P. Putnam's Sons,, [2014]
ISBN: 9780399171987
0399171983
Branch Call Number: 362.50973 TIR NVD
Characteristics: xxiv, 195 pages ; 24 cm

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TheresaAJ
Jun 14, 2018

While the author is trying to explain her reality to others, her angry, sarcastic tone comes off as condescending. Although it may be a defense mechanism on her part, it doesn't help the reader empathize with her situation. What I liked about the book was her attempt to explain income inequality in America by detailing her daily life. Her chapter, An Open Letter to Rich People, clearly delineates various aspects of class divide in today's America.

i
Indoorcamping
May 20, 2018

You can read this one in a day, and you should. Really. I've been homeless, I've been poor, I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area with all the advantages, and yet that happened. My situation was due to marrying and having kids with an idiot; hers is due to having a career in food service. She illustrates beautifully why being poor and coping with being poor is not due to some character issue or poor choices (like my situation was, probably), but from structural capitalism. And every chapter knocks down those stupid arguments my mom threw back at me like there's some "culture of poverty" that irresponsible people have that is why they are poor. I wish I had the guts to throw this book at my mom next time she blames the victim who works three fast food jobs.

d
dnk
Oct 18, 2017

This is an unapologetic look at what being poor/living in poverty does to someone's life. Pop culture demands two stereotypes of the poor: a hapless victim who's desperately trying to improve their circumstances or someone who's trying to squeeze the system for everything they can get out of it and is perfectly comfortable doing so. Tirado doesn't conform to either of those: she admits that she made some mistakes, but it's clear reading her story that none of them should have been enough to condemn her to financial precariousness. She also suffered her share of misfortune, such as when she was in a car accident and sustained damage to her jaw, when her apartment flooded and her landlord did nothing to fix the water damage, when one state kept her on their food stamp rolls after she left which meant that accepting the benefits in another state amounted to fraud, and of course the numerous jobs where she had to work with managers and owners who would make sure that she had only enough hours to not be able to quit but not enough to survive.

I cringed as she went over the condescension she has experienced, not only by those who think that if she and everyone who doesn't have money just tried harder they'd do well, but also the people who are supposed to help her. (Ah, haven't we all had the dentist who assumes you're a loser if you have less than perfect dental hygiene?) Reading about what she's gone through, it's surprising that she isn't more bitter.

I recommend this to anyone who doesn't understand poverty and wants to hear what it's like from someone who lives it.

ArapahoeLesley Nov 09, 2016

Tirado's expose on the hypocrisies of the upper classes is very true, very funny and not a little bit maddening. Much I can relate to as a service worker and much I cannot... but a worthwhile read for anyone.

p
Pansy
Apr 06, 2016

I am so glad I don't live in the USA, I don't think Canada is quite as bleak.

j
JackPurcell
May 23, 2015

The people who flip your hamburgers, wash the store windows, pick up the trash as their only sources of income and how they live.

m
moviefan01
Feb 18, 2015

This is one of the most refreshing books I've read in a long time. Ms Tirado comes across as an angry Barbara Ehrenreich...and that's a good thing, I think. Tirado is spot on with her writing, and I understand her feelings and where she's coming from--since I've been there myself. You know, if you're poor, there are lots of things you're not supposed to like. Reading. Bookstores. Coffeehouses. High-quality foodstuffs. And god forbid you should want a college education or medical coverage. I still tend to think there needs to be some serious political and social changes in the U.S. If you liked Ehrenreich's book Nickel and DImed, read this book too!!

s
StarGladiator
Oct 12, 2014

The highly negative Library Journal review sounds rather specious, Ms. Tirado explains the situation, The System, and the systems, quite accurately, as far as any actual activists and well informed people are concerned. Fact of the matter: too many forces [as in organizations, this so-called think tank and that one, the various commissions and committees] are all about lowering wages, so that the super-rich can grab a larger and larger share, while officially not having taxable earned income, only income from investment, capital gains, et cetera. [And they and their underlings are frequently paid by loans from their offshore entities, and said loans and interest are tax deductible, and any interest and payments are simply more shifting of monies offshore.] One-fifth of the US workforce was laid off the last five years, during the official fourth jobless recovery [really this is the sixth, but Reagan really fudged the first two's numbers] and almost one-half of the so-called newly created jobs cannot be verified - - jobs which do not exist cannot be verified!

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