Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth

Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth Review

During Sarah Smarsh’s turbulent childhood in Kansas in the 1980s and 1990s, the forces of cyclical poverty and 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 look more closely at the class divide in our country and examine 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.

Smarsh was born a fifth generation Kansas wheat farmer on her paternal side and the product of generations of teen mothers on her maternal side. Through her experiences growing up as the daughter of a dissatisfied young mother and raised predominantly by her grandmother on a farm thirty miles west of Wichita, we are given a unique and essential look into the lives of poor and working class Americans living in the heartland. 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.

Title:Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth
Edition Language:English

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    Some Testimonial About This Book:

  • Richard Derus

    Real Rating: 2.5* of fiveDNF @ 41%Entirely because the book is written as though to the author's unborn—nay, unconceived—daughter. It's simply too cutesy-poopsie-woopsie a conceit for me. I love t...

  • Elizabeth

    tl;dr: I was really excited about Heartland but a gimmick makes it fall flat.I was giddy when I heard about Heartland--finally, a book had come along with the power of Nickled and Dimed!Sadly, despite...

  • Clif Hostetler

    This is a very well written memoir that not only recounts memories of growing up in Kansas (30 miles west of Wichita), but ponders the plight of working class poor with a deeply humane sensitivity tha...

  • Diane

    This is a memoir that has really good content — a great discussion of social class and poverty in middle America — but the author's decision to write the book as if she were addressing her unborn ...

  • Michelle

    “Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in The Richest Country on Earth” is a resounding story by Sarah Smarsh of her family life, heritage and farming culture on the Kansas prairie. ...

  • Jennifer Blankfein

    Follow my reviews on Book Nation by Jen. https://booknationbyjen.wordpress.comIt is possible that I have overdosed on stories about indigence and the cultural divide, so for me, Sarah Smarsh’s messa...

  • Rebecca

    (3.5) If you were a fan of Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance, then Heartland deserves to be on your radar too. Smarsh comes from five generations of Kansas wheat farmers and worked hard to step outside of...

  • Janilyn Kocher

    Heartland is a great read. I enjoyed Smarsh's family history immensely. However, I'm not buying her assertion that she grew up in poverty. I suppose my definition of poverty differs from hers. She alw...

  • M

    I read this book with much anticipation after hearing the author interviewed on the New York Times Book Review Podcast. The small town upbringing, the succeeding despite difficult challenges, being th...

  • Kathleen

    National Book Award for Nonfiction Longlist 2018. Smarsh has chosen to write about her own family’s multigenerational struggle in Kansas to get ahead by working any way that they could to make ends ...