Monday, April 16, 2012

Scratch Beginnings

Scratch Beginnings: Me, $25 and the search for the American Dream
By Adam Shepard

After reading Barbara Ehrenreich’s “Nickel and Dimed”, Adam Shepard was not ready to believe that the American Dream was unattainable to those who start at the bottom. So with his glass half full mentality he set out to a new city with $25.00 in his pocket determined to prove that the American Dream can be a reality.

I liked Adam Shepard’s attitude much more than Barbara’s and was pleased with his determination to stick with it until he proved Barbara or himself wrong. This book was different from Nickel & Dimed because he wasn’t trying to flex his intellectual muscles and superior social skills through his writing.  He assumed his role as a homeless man as well as he could.

I got bored in this book too. This wasn’t a book about how to become a professional mover however I felt he spent a lot of time talking about all that and it wasn’t necessary. This and “Nickel and Dimed” could have been easily reduced to a few essays and made their points just as poignantly.

Although Adam had a better hope in his outcome his Suzy Sunshine attitude and need to be ‘accepted’ or ‘liked’ by the ‘in-crowd’ at a homeless shelter or at his work was very high school and I disliked that very much. Who cares if the popular kids like you?  I guess it makes life a bit more charmed but if you are trampling on others while you trot on your high horse, your elevated status is of no help to others. I give this book 1 ½ stars. I am a little bothered that books are selling that mimic the working poor. There are plenty of working poor, why don’t we just research their story and publish that instead of playing pretend?

Nickel and Dimed

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

The author takes it upon herself to work  ‘undercover’ and become a low wage, blue color worker to see if it is possible to get by and move up on the American socioeconomic ladder.

My first draft of this review was much like the book, long and whiney. Because that is exactly what I disliked about the book, I decided to redraft. So here it is. I didn’t like it and generously give it 1-star. If you are up for a short rant, continue on.

This book was boring and confusing. More than once I found myself back at the introduction to refresh my memory as to what she was attempting to prove. Was it that no one could get ahead in this country on low wages or was it that the working class is mistreated and downtrodden or that it sucks to have a job that requires a lot of work with little or no reward? Whichever it was, she had a very difficult time “spitting” it out. However, by its conclusion, I believed she accomplished what she set out to do…fail. Congratulations.

There were a few bits that really got me fired up, but not in sympathy for her case, I kept thinking up solutions or arguments to refute what she had put forth. Rather than spend the 15 hours or so it may take to read this book, get off your duff and go help someone! We can talk about change for the rest of our lives but until we DO something about it, our hope for change is wasted.