Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America

Front Cover
Macmillan, Apr 1, 2010 - Social Science - 224 pages
222 Reviews
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.

  

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
43
4 stars
72
3 stars
55
2 stars
26
1 star
26

Easy to read and accessible. - Goodreads
I thought it was very thought provoking, easy to read. - Goodreads
She's not even writing FOR the working poor. - Goodreads
I'm telling you the plot. - Goodreads
No hope for tips here! - Goodreads
She is a waitress and makes $2.43 an hour + tips. - Goodreads

Review: Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America

User Review  - Ellen Garfield - Goodreads

Really good insight into how the majority of America gets by. I give her lots of credit for doing this. Read full review

Review: Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America

User Review  - Books Ring Mah Bell - Goodreads

I realize I'm nearly a decade late to the "party". The party being this book. Sonofa... However, the theme is still relevant, especially with the recent downturn in the economy and the high ... Read full review

All 168 reviews »

Related books

Contents

Getting Ready
1
One Serving in Florida
11
Two Scrubbing in Maine
51
Three Selling in Minnesota
121
Evaluation
193
Nickel and Dimed
223
A Readers Guide
241
Copyright

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2010)

Barbara Ehrenreich is the author of Nickel and Dimed, Blood Rites, The Worst Years of Our Lives (a New York Times bestseller), Fear of Falling, which was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award, and eight other books. A frequent contributor to Time, Harper's, Esquire, The New Republic, Mirabella, The Nation, and The New York Times Magazine, she lives near Key West, Florida.

Bibliographic information