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Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America by Barbara Ehrenreich Review

Title: Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America

Author: Barbara Ehrenreich

First published May 8, 2001

240 pages, Paperback

ISBN: 9780805063899 (ISBN10: 0805063897)

Rating: 3.65


Join Barbara Ehrenreich as she embarks on a journey to explore the harsh realities of poverty-level wages in America. In 1998, Ehrenreich decided to live like a low-wage worker to understand how anyone can survive, let alone thrive, on meager earnings of $6-$7 an hour.

From Florida to Maine to Minnesota, she worked as a waitress, hotel maid, house cleaner, nursing home aide, and Wal-Mart salesperson, taking the cheapest lodgings available. Through her experiences, she discovered that even the “lowliest” occupations require exhaustive mental and physical efforts.

In Nickel and Dimed, Ehrenreich exposes the tenacity, anxiety, and surprising generosity of low-wage America, a land of Big Boxes, fast food, and a thousand desperate stratagems for survival. This book will change the way you perceive America’s working poor, as it did for countless others who were captivated by Ehrenreich’s insight, humor, and passion.

About the Author

Barbara Ehrenreich worked as an American journalist and wrote sixteen books, which became bestsellers. Some of her popular works include Nickel and Dimed and Bait and Switch.

She regularly contributed to Harpers and The Nation and worked as a columnist for The New York Times and Time Magazine.

Editoral Review

Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America by Barbara Ehrenreich is a nonfiction book that was first published in 2001. Ehrenreich is a noted journalist and author who has written extensively about social inequality, feminism, and politics.

In this book, she examines the lives of low-wage workers in America by taking on several minimum-wage jobs herself. The book is a blend of journalism, memoir, and social commentary, and is an eye-opening exploration of poverty and inequality in America.

The book is organized into three parts, each of which covers Ehrenreich’s experiences working in a different city: Key West, Florida; Portland, Maine; and Minneapolis, Minnesota. She takes on a range of jobs, from cleaning hotel rooms to working at a Wal-Mart, and shares her observations about the challenges and injustices faced by low-wage workers.

Ehrenreich also includes research and statistics to support her arguments, and offers insightful commentary on the social and political forces that contribute to poverty and inequality in America. One of the strengths of Nickel and Dimed is Ehrenreich’s writing style.

She is a skilled writer who blends facts and personal anecdotes to create a compelling and thought-provoking narrative. Her prose is sharp and engaging, and she has a knack for describing the sights, sounds, and smells of the various workplaces she experiences.

Another strength of the book is how it sheds light on the struggles of low-wage workers in America. Ehrenreich does a remarkable job of capturing the daily challenges faced by people who are barely getting by, from the physical toll of strenuous labor to the emotional toll of working long hours for low pay.

The book is an important contribution to the ongoing conversation about inequality in America. However, there are a few weaknesses to the book as well.

One is that Ehrenreich’s experiences may not be representative of everyone in the same situation. For example, she has a college degree and is in good health, which means she may have had an easier time than someone without those advantages.

Additionally, some readers may find the book to be overly political or biased, as Ehrenreich is outspoken about her views on social justice and labor issues. Despite these limitations, Nickel and Dimed is a powerful and insightful book that is well worth reading.

It offers a window into the lives of people who often go unnoticed and unheard, and forces readers to confront the widespread injustices that exist in our society. This book is recommended for anyone who is interested in understanding poverty and inequality in America, and who wants to learn more about the struggles of low-wage workers.

Score: 4/5. While not without its flaws, Nickel and Dimed is a well-written and thought-provoking book that sheds light on an important issue.

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