Growing up in my own version of rural poverty, I was anxious to compare Mary Childer's childhood to my own. We are, within a few years, close to the same age, so I concluded that our stories might be similar. I couldn't have been more off the mark. The urban setting changes everything. Growing up poor in New York is definitely not comparable to growing up poor in rural Texas!
With that out of the way, I can honestly say I would rather live my version of being poor. The gnawing fear that Mary grew up with--fear of gangs, fear of men out to do her harm, fear that they would become homeless at any time---that fear was something she lived with every day. It made her strong, but it took away her childhood.
I couldn't help but feel sad for Mary and her family when, at the end of the month, when the food stamps were spent and all of the government cheese and peanut butter was eaten, they often went hungry. Mary really resented her mother for buying any non-essentials, like hair color and beer. I don't blame her. Mary's mother would take odd jobs, off the books, but wouldn't work full time because she would lose all of her benefits and she knew welfare would be there for her, while a job would not even pay for housing, much less food.
One of the problems came from having too many babies with men who didn't care about the kids they made. No child support was mentioned in the memoir, and I suppose in the 60s and 70s it wasn't like it is now, where a man is hunted down and made to pay child support.
There are a couple shocking passages, but for the most part this is a story about a mother who has made too many bad decisions and how she and her children suffer because of those decisions. Even so, Mary, by the end of the book, gets over her anger at her mother and graciously admits that her mother did the best she could with the limited resources available to her.
Great story about a young girl whose mother is on welfare
This was an interesting book that I found out about off someone elses wishlist. The story from the viewpoint of someone who grew up in the welfare system and doesn't hide the flaws of her family. It was a good read