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Review Date: 4/1/2007
A fun book to read on the beach, the airplane, or anytime! Action takes place in Florida, Boston, and in between.
Review Date: 7/1/2007
Helpful Score: 3
This book is alternately funny, disturbing, uplifting, and depressing. I spent a lot of the book wondering what I was supposed to think about it.
The plot focuses mostly on Todd and Sarah, married (not to each other) stay-at-home parents in suburbia. They begin an affair after meeting one day at their neighborhood playground. Tom Perrotta has a gift for bringing secondary characters to life, so we also become well-acquainted with Todd and Sarah's spouses, neighborhood friends and enemies, and the child molester who has recently moved to town.
This book was made into an excellent movie in 2006, an adaptation quite faithful to the book.
Review Date: 3/16/2007
A fun book that made me appreciate my not-so-bad-after-all job! A very quick read, soon to be a movie.
Review Date: 6/20/2012
Helpful Score: 3
In 1998, policymakers in Washington applauded welfare reform policies that would transition welfare recipients into the labor market. But Barbara Ehrenreich wasnt buying the hype. How does anyone live on $6 or $7 an hour, she wondered, the typical wage paid to unskilled workers? Good question, and Ms. Ehrenreich did three months of old-fashioned" investigative journalism to find the answer. She put her comfortable lifestyle on hiatus and tried to make ends meet while working as a waitress in Key West, a maid in Maine, and a Wal-Mart associate in Minnesota. In Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, Ms. Ehrenreich chronicles her heart-wrenching, stressful, and funny experiences as part of the community of the working poor.
It is one of the best arguments for a living wage ever published in this country. And for anyone who doesn't understand why poverty is a public health issue, it's a must-read.
Ms. Ehrenreichs story begins in Key West, where she takes a waitressing job making $5.15 an hour, including tips. She survives on cheap processed food, develops an aching back from spending hours on her feet, and endures verbal abuse from her manager anytime she pauses for a break. But her biggest problem, which remains her biggest problem throughout the book, is housing. Finding a safe, suitable place to live with affordable rent and a reasonable down payment is impossible. She has to tap into her savings from her past life to avoid homelessness.
The housing market in Maine isnt much better, and Ms. Ehrenreich moves into a motel, paying a cheap off-season rate. She works as a housekeeper for a sleazy corporate maid service that pays its employees a dismal fraction of what it charges customers. One of the maids, Rosalie, is a teenager who can only afford to eat a snack-size bag of Doritos to fuel her eight-hour workday. Holly, another maid, forgoes medical care that she needs after an occupational injury, and none of the staff can afford housing without pooling resources with friends or family.
In Minnesota, Ms. Ehrenreich arguably has the best job, but it is also the one that angers her the most deeply. As a Wal-Mart associate, she makes $7 an hour to sort and fold womens clothing. It is physically demanding, mind-numbing work, but it is the corporate culture that most enrages the author. Ms. Ehrenreich is disturbed by drug-testing policies, anti-union propaganda, and rules against talking with colleagues, which she views as demeaning ways to keep low-wage employees in their place. If youre made to feel unworthy enough, she concludes, you may come to think that what youre paid is what you are actually worth.
Despite the life-or-death seriousness of the subject matter, Nickel and Dimed is fast-paced and funny. It is careful to avoid condescension and classism. Ms. Ehrenreich describes her co-workers with respect, fondness, and occasionally, downright awe (in the case of a fellow maid who refuses to stop working after a nasty ankle injury). The author complains about her substandard living arrangements, her aching back, and her clueless managers, but she is well aware that her situation is temporary, unlike many others. Almost anyone could do what I did--look for jobs, work those jobs, try to make ends meet, she writes. In fact, millions of Americans do it every day, and with a lot less fanfare and dithering.
And they continue to do it. Ms. Ehrenreich did her serving in Florida, scrubbing in Maine, and selling in Minnesota between 1998 - 2000. Thats before 9/11, before the housing market crash, and before the 2008 financial crisis that toppled giant Wall Street firms. It was the height of Americas economic boom, so the author had no problem finding jobs in restaurants, hotels, and retail stores. It is sobering to imagine how difficult it would be for her to replicate this project in todays economy, where jobs are scarce. As hard as it was for Rosalie and Holly and the others in Nickel and Dimed, its likely that for many Americans, things have gotten much worse.
Review Date: 4/10/2007
Helpful Score: 4
Nicholas Sparks books are like cheesecake: sweet and fluffy, satisfying, and hard not to devour in one sitting. True Believer is the story of Jeremy Marsh, a cynical New York writer who makes his living debunking supernatural phenomena. As the story opens, Jeremy is headed to Boone Creek, South Carolina to investigate mysterious lights that appear in the small towns historic cemetery. There, he encounters all sorts of amusing southern stereotypes: a talk-your-ear-off gas station attendant, a motel filled with stuffed forest critters, and a mayor overflowing with southern hospitality. What Jeremy doesnt expect is the sassy, worldly town librarian, Lexie Darnell. As he comes closer to solving the mystery of the cemetery lights, Jeremy begins to dread the day hell have to return to New York and leave Lexie.
This is a breeze to read, perfect for making a bus commute fly by. The dialogue between Jeremy and Lexie is fun and snappy, and although the conclusion of the book is predictable, there are a few surprises along the way.
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