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The Resource Heartland : a memoir of working hard and being broke in the richest country on Earth, Sarah Smarsh

Heartland : a memoir of working hard and being broke in the richest country on Earth, Sarah Smarsh

Label
Heartland : a memoir of working hard and being broke in the richest country on Earth
Title
Heartland
Title remainder
a memoir of working hard and being broke in the richest country on Earth
Statement of responsibility
Sarah Smarsh
Creator
Author
Subject
Genre
Language
eng
Summary
"During Sarah Smarsh's turbulent childhood in Kansas in the 1980s and 1990s, the country's changing economic policies solidified her family's place among the working poor. By telling the story of her life and the lives of the people she loves, Smarsh challenges us to examine the class divide in our country and the myths about people thought to be less because they earn less. Her personal history affirms the corrosive impact intergenerational poverty can have on individuals, families, and communities, and she explores this idea as lived experience, metaphor, and level of consciousness. Born a fifth-generation Kansas wheat farmer on her paternal side and the product of generations of teen mothers on her maternal side, Smarsh grew up in a family of laborers trapped in a cycle of poverty. Whether working the wheat harvest, helping on her dad's construction sites, or visiting her grandma's courthouse job, she learned about hard work. She also absorbed painful lessons about economic inequality. Through her experience growing up as the child of a dissatisfied teenage mother--and being raised predominantly by her grandmother on a farm thirty miles west of Wichita--she gives us a unique, essential look into the lives of poor and working-class Americans living in the middle of our country. Combining memoir with powerful analysis and cultural commentary, Heartland is an uncompromising look at class, identity, and the particular perils of having less in a country known for its excess. "--Dust jacket
Storyline
Tone
Writing style
Review
  • /* Starred Review */ “Class is an illusion with real consequences,” Smarsh writes in this candid and courageous memoir of growing up in a family of working-class farmers in Kansas during the 1980s and ’90s. A writing professor and journalist whose work has appeared in the Guardian and the New Yorker, Smarsh tells her story to her inner child, whose “unborn spirit” allows Smarsh to break the cycle of poverty that constrained her family for generations. Smarsh was born to a teenage mother, and the women in her family were all young mothers who hardened and aged early from the work it took to survive the day-to-day. Smarsh writes with love and care about these women and the men who married them, including her father and Grandpa Arnie, but she also lays bare their hardships (for many poor women, “there is a violence to merely existing: the pregnancies without health care, the babies that can’t be had, the repetitive physical jobs”) and the shame of being poor (”to experience economic poverty... is to live with constant reminders of what you don’t have”). It is through education that Smarsh is able to avoid their fate; but while hers is a happy ending, she is still haunted by the fact that being poor is associated with being bad. Smarsh’s raw and intimate narrative exposes a country of economic inequality that “has failed its children.” Agent: Julie Barer, the Book Group. (Sept.) --Staff (Reviewed 06/11/2018) (Publishers Weekly, vol 265, issue 24, p)
  • /* Starred Review */ Journalist Smarsh explores socio-economic class and poverty through an account of her low-income, rural Kansas-based extended family. In her first book, addressed to her imaginary daughter—the author, born in 1980, is childless by choice—the author emphasizes how those with solid financial situations often lack understanding about families such as hers. Smarsh, a fellow at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, lived a nomadic life until becoming a first-generation college student. Smarsh vowed to herself and her imaginary daughter to escape the traps that enslaved her mother, grandmothers, female cousins, and others in her family. "So much of childhood amounts to being awake in a grown-up's nightmare," she writes. "Ours happened to be about poverty, which comes with not just psychological dangers but mortal ones, too." Because the author does not proceed chronologically, the numerous strands of family history can be difficult to follow. However, Smarsh would almost surely contend that the specific family strands are less important for readers to grasp than the powerful message of class bias illustrated by those strands. As the author notes, given her ambition, autodidactic nature, and extraordinary beauty, her biological mother could have made more of herself in a different socio-economic situation. But the reality of becoming a teenage mother created hurdles that Smarsh's mother could never overcome; her lack of money, despite steady employment, complicated every potential move upward. The author's father, a skilled carpenter and overall handyman, was not a good provider or a dependable husband, but her love for him is fierce, as is her love for grandparents beset by multiple challenges. While she admits that some of those challenges were self-created, others were caused by significant systemic problems perpetuated by government at all levels. Later, when Smarsh finally reached college, she faced a new struggle: overcoming stereotypes about so-called "white trash." Then, she writes, "I began to understand the depth of the rift that is economic inequality." A potent social and economic message embedded within an affecting memoir. (Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 2018)
Biography type
autobiography
http://library.link/vocab/ext/novelist/bookUI
10692244
Cataloging source
YDX
http://library.link/vocab/creatorName
Smarsh, Sarah
Dewey number
  • 978.1/843
  • B
Index
no index present
Literary form
non fiction
http://library.link/vocab/resourcePreferred
True
http://library.link/vocab/subjectName
  • Smarsh, Sarah
  • Poor
  • Working poor
  • Farmers
  • Farmers
  • Farm life
  • Farm life
  • Kansas
http://bibfra.me/vocab/lite/titleRemainder
a memoir of working hard and being broke in the richest country on Earth
Label
Heartland : a memoir of working hard and being broke in the richest country on Earth, Sarah Smarsh
Instantiates
Publication
Copyright
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Contents
Dear August -- A penny in a purse -- The body of a poor girl -- A stretch of gravel with wheat on either side -- The shame a country could assign -- A house that needs shingles -- A working-class woman -- The place I was from
Control code
000063949971
Dimensions
22 cm.
Edition
First Scribner hardcover edition.
Extent
ix, 290 pages
Isbn
9781501133091
Lccn
2017301189
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
System control number
(OCoLC)1022688633
Label
Heartland : a memoir of working hard and being broke in the richest country on Earth, Sarah Smarsh
Publication
Copyright
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Contents
Dear August -- A penny in a purse -- The body of a poor girl -- A stretch of gravel with wheat on either side -- The shame a country could assign -- A house that needs shingles -- A working-class woman -- The place I was from
Control code
000063949971
Dimensions
22 cm.
Edition
First Scribner hardcover edition.
Extent
ix, 290 pages
Isbn
9781501133091
Lccn
2017301189
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
System control number
(OCoLC)1022688633

Library Locations

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      -33.938111 151.237977
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