Nickel and Dimed Review

2293666Author: Barbara Ehrenreich
Series: Standalone
Genres: Nonfiction, Social Issues, Poverty, Adult
Published: August 2, 2011
Retail Price: $16.00
Rating: 4/5 starts


“Our sharpest and most original social critic goes “undercover” as an unskilled worker to reveal the dark side of American prosperity.

Millions of Americans work full time, year round, for poverty-level wages. In 1998, Barbara Ehrenreich decided to join them. She was inspired in part by the rhetoric surrounding welfare reform, which promised that a job — any job — can be the ticket to a better life. But how does anyone survive, let alone prosper, on $6 an hour? To find out, Ehrenreich left her home, took the cheapest lodgings she could find, and accepted whatever jobs she was offered. Moving from Florida to Maine to Minnesota, she worked as a waitress, a hotel maid, a cleaning woman, a nursing-home aide, and a Wal-Mart sales clerk. She lived in trailer parks and crumbling residential motels. Very quickly, she discovered that no job is truly “unskilled,” that even the lowliest occupations require exhausting mental and muscular effort. She also learned that one job is not enough; you need at least two if you int to live indoors.

Nickel and Dimed reveals low-rent America in all its tenacity, anxiety, and surprising generosity — a land of Big Boxes, fast food, and a thousand desperate stratagems for survival. Read it for the smoldering clarity of Ehrenreich’s perspective and for a rare view of how “prosperity” looks from the bottom. You will never see anything — from a motel bathroom to a restaurant meal — in quite the same way again.” – Goodreads


Nickel and Dimed is a nonfiction where the author experimented with being a low-wage woker in America to prove to people how hard it actually is to live in poverty. Since this is a real life experience, this nonfiction isn’t only pages and pages of facts, its also opinions and people who are right there, uneffected by the research aspect of this book. That’s why this book has such a high rating despite me reading it for school and it being a nonfiction.

I like how personally truthful this book is, and by that I mean from the author. She doesn’t pretend at all like she knows all the facts and she knows where she falls short in her pretending to live in poverty. In plain terms this means she isn’t sugar coating anything. She gives us the plain truth of what she experiencing and how she’s going through this life, full in or half in.

Its really surprising how hard the life is when she’s stressed and not fully committed to living the low-wage working lifestyle. She doesn’t have kids to lug around, she doesn’t have a husband she can fall back on, like other people in this area do, and yet she’s still struggling. Under everything, that should be enough to show someone that things need to change.

Ultamitely, there is a lot of controversy over this book so I won’t make this review long. I looked through some Goodreads reviews and its really either one star or five stars. The one star people (I feel like) didn’t grasp the fact that Ehrenreich knew that she wasn’t putting a full effort into this while the five star people were the ones that actually lived in bascially the same situations she had experienced temporarily and were grateful that someone of a higher class even thought to help prove what they experience everyday. So I’ll let everyone who read this review figure out what side of the spectrum that they’re on. So go on, go read the book for yourself.

Favorite Quotes

“No… sneaking off to read novels in the ladies’ room,” Page 4.

“Low-wage workers are no more homogenous in personality or ability… Anyone in the educated classes who thinks other wise ought to broaden their circle of friends,” Page 8.

“‘If you’re going to do something, do it well’,” Page 18.

“‘If you seek happiness for yourself you will never find it. Only when you seek happiness for others will it come to you…’,” Page 20.

“‘men run everything– we don’t have a chance unless we stick together,” Page 21.


1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s