Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth

Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth Review

A perfect companion to Evicted and Nickel and Dimed, Heartland reveals one woman's experience of working-class poverty with a startlingly observed, eye-opening, and topical personal story.

During Sarah Smarsh’s turbulent childhood in Kansas in the 1980s and 1990s, the forces of cyclical poverty and the country’s changing economic policies solidified her family’s place among the working poor. By telling the story of her life and the lives of the people she loves, Smarsh challenges us to look more closely at the class divide in our country and examine the myths about people thought to be less because they earn less. Her personal history affirms the corrosive impact intergenerational poverty can have on individuals, families, and communities, and she explores this idea as lived experience, metaphor, and level of consciousness.

Smarsh was born a fifth generation Kansas wheat farmer on her paternal side and the product of generations of teen mothers on her maternal side. Through her experiences growing up as the daughter of a dissatisfied young mother and raised predominantly by her grandmother on a farm thirty miles west of Wichita, we are given a unique and essential look into the lives of poor and working-class Americans living in the heartland. Combining memoir with powerful analysis and cultural commentary, Heartland is an uncompromising look at class, identity, and the particular perils of having less in a country known for its excess.

Title:Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth

    Some Testimonial About This Book:

  • Michelle

    “Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in The Richest Country on Earth” is a resounding story by Sarah Smarsh of her family life, heritage and farming culture on the Kansas prairie. ...

  • Clif Hostetler

    This is a very well written memoir that not only recounts memories of growing up in Kansas (30 miles west of Wichita), but ponders the plight of working class poor with a deeply humane sensitivity tha...

  • Kathleen

    National Book Award for Nonfiction Longlist 2018. Smarsh has chosen to write about her own family’s multigenerational struggle in Kansas to get ahead by working any way that they could to make ends ...

  • Elizabeth

    tl;dr: I was really excited about Heartland but a gimmick makes it fall flat.I was giddy when I heard about Heartland--finally, a book had come along with the power of Nickled and Dimed!Sadly, despite...

  • Paul

    Heartland belongs on the shelf next to books like Desmond’s Evicted, Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy, and Ehrenreich’s Nickle and Dimed. Smarsh’s book provides a strong voice for and about breaking th...

  • Brad

    As a lifelong Kansan who came from a working class family in Topeka but knew nothing of the life of the rural parts of my state, I declare this essential reading. Essential not just for Kansans like m...

  • Janilyn Kocher

    Heartland is a great read. I enjoyed Smarsh's family history immensely. However, I'm not buying her assertion that she grew up in poverty. I suppose my definition of poverty differs from hers. She alw...

  • Jerrie (redwritinghood)

    From the NBA shortlist for non-fiction comes this memoir about growing up poor in a “flyover” state. While I can agree with a lot of what she says about growing up in a rural setting, I sometimes ...

  • Brandi

    I like reading about lives that are very different from my own. Sarah Smarsh is a good writer, and it was interesting to learn her family history and her views on the world. But I really wish this boo...

  • Suzanne

    Strong initial effort by author Sarah Smart combines memoir with facts and figures to further explain her family’s hardships over the last century. This combination approach is a difficult one to pu...