Skip to main content

Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive

Review

Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive

MAID is a memoir written with such immediacy that you’ll find yourself rooting for the author right through to the very end.

Stephanie Land is a hopeful young woman who works at a café near Seattle, Washington. She has her whole life ahead of her, and dreams of becoming a writer and moving to the breathtaking city of Missoula, Montana. Even though she has all the potential in the world, one can see that her difficult family life may be holding her back. Stephanie grew up with parents who married young and were far from rich. She has fond childhood memories of staying with her grandparents in their trailer, but her grandmother now has paranoid schizophrenia and sometimes accuses her grandfather of flirting with her. To make matters worse, Stephanie’s mother resides in France with a new husband, and her father is also remarried. Neither can offer her much support. In fact, one day, when Stephanie is at rock bottom, struggling with $10 to her name and having just moved out of a homeless shelter with her child, her stepfather calls her entitled and refuses to pay for her meal after they all go out to eat.

"As Stephanie continues to tell us her story, we are curious to know what steps she will take next and if she will survive living paycheck to paycheck.... We want Stephanie to achieve her goal of becoming a writer, because her story gives us inspiration."

One evening, Stephanie spots a young man named Jamie who sits on a bench and plays music. She finds him intriguing and strikes up a conversation. When she discovers that he is a chef and makes the tiramisu at a restaurant she knows well, she’s sure she’ll go to bed with him. It’s that good. The two begin dating and sharing living expenses, as Stephanie moves into his trailer. The relationship is sort of a means to an end. Jamie intends on biking cross country, and Stephanie is saving to move to Montana --- until she gets pregnant. She wants to give Jamie the chance to be a father, but he becomes hostile and insists that she have an abortion. Alone, confused and without much income, Stephanie doesn’t know what to do. Her father consoles her, and she decides to listen to herself. She will keep the baby and be an amazing mother. It is up to her.

Stephanie moves out of Jamie’s trailer, and a custody battle ensues. Jamie’s argument is that Stephanie is homeless. At first she moves into a shelter with their baby, Mia. Being a single mother isn’t easy, let alone one without a solid source of income or help. Stephanie begins to learn the struggles of being on government assistance, and the red tape. People she had called friends begin looking down on her. Many cannot empathize with her financial situation, which has been made worse by the high cost of housing and low wages due to the recession. She performs odd jobs landscaping, but it’s seasonal work and not sufficient. So she begins to seek out work as a maid.

Working as a maid is no easy feat. Not everyone can stomach disgusting toilets or complaints from nitpicky homeowners. Furthermore, cleaning companies take most of the workers’ wages, often leaving Stephanie with less than $10 an hour after taxes, never mind travel expenses and the wear-and-tear on her car. She gladly takes the jobs anyway as she needs all the help she can get. At first, she works for a cleaning company that gives her inconsistent hours, and forces her to do jobs with a woman who steals from customers and cancels appointments. But Stephanie wants something steadier. Oftentimes, she has to struggle to work, asking Jamie to watch the baby so she can take on extra clients to make ends meet.

After being hired by Classic Clean, an agency that pays less but has more consistent hours and is on the books, Stephanie becomes their most prized worker. To make enough to pay her rent, she posts advertisements on Craigslist and secures clients on her own. In addition, she keeps up with a blog that details her struggles as a single mom, which grows quite popular.

After moving out of Section 8 and living with a boyfriend, Stephanie sees that her daughter is happy and yearns for a father figure, but the man doesn’t treat her with the respect she deserves, and she feels she is losing a part of herself and her independence. After he asks her to leave, Stephanie finds a studio apartment that is moldy, but it’s all she can afford at that moment.

As Stephanie continues to tell us her story, we are curious to know what steps she will take next and if she will survive living paycheck to paycheck. When her daughter becomes ill due to the mold in their studio apartment, her strength shines through and she is determined to do better for her child. She stops accepting low wages and becomes self-employed as a cleaner, confident in her abilities and with stellar references to back up her talents. Going to college, working full time and being a single parent is not easy, but Stephanie pulls it off, and we know she can do whatever she sets her mind to, as she is a strong, independent woman and a fiercely loving mother.

We want Stephanie to achieve her goal of becoming a writer, because her story gives us inspiration. If you follow your dreams, life won’t steer you wrong. By holding MAID in your hands, you know that Stephanie’s dream did come true --- and yours can too.

Reviewed by Bianca Ambrosio on January 22, 2019

Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive
by Stephanie Land

  • Publication Date: January 22, 2019
  • Genres: Memoir, Nonfiction, Social Sciences
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Hachette Books
  • ISBN-10: 0316505110
  • ISBN-13: 9780316505116