Book Review: Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive

By Stephanie Land – Reviewed by Eve Ross*

New York: Hachette, 2019. 288p. $27.00, hardcover. Also available as e-book or e-audiobook. Find it at a local library through worldcat.org. If purchased through bookshop.org, sales support independent bookstores.

Stephanie Land, a talented writer, was not much older than the average law student when an unplanned pregnancy and insufficient support derailed her plans for college. She relied on housekeeping work, food stamps, and WIC to provide for herself and her daughter.

Land’s story is reminiscent of Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed, in the sense that she is writing about her housekeeping work while believing that she would not always be doing that work. The major difference that Ehrenreich took housekeeping jobs entirely by choice. Ehrenreich wrote the foreword for Maid.

Law students might see themselves reflected as much in Land as in her clear-eyed descriptions of the government workers who process her benefits, and of her housekeeping clients whose lives she comes to know in intimate detail.

*Eve Ross, 2020. Reference Librarian, Law Library, University of South Carolina School of Law, Columbia, South Carolina.