We are proud to announce that BookBrowse has won Platinum in the 2024 Modern Library Awards.

Maid: Book summary and reviews of Maid by Stephanie Land

Maid

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

by Stephanie Land

Maid by Stephanie Land X
Maid by Stephanie Land
Buy This Book

About this book

Book Summary

Evicted meets Nickel and Dimed in Stephanie Land's memoir about working as a maid, a beautiful and gritty exploration of poverty in America. Includes a foreword by Barbara Ehrenreich.

"My daughter learned to walk in a homeless shelter."

While the gap between upper middle-class Americans and the working poor widens, grueling low-wage domestic and service work - primarily done by women - fuels the economic success of the wealthy. Stephanie Land worked for years as a maid, pulling long hours while struggling as a single mom to keep a roof over her daughter's head. In Maid, she reveals the dark truth of what it takes to survive and thrive in today's inequitable society.

While she worked hard to scratch her way out of poverty as a single parent, scrubbing the toilets of the wealthy, navigating domestic labor jobs, higher education, assisted housing, and a tangled web of government assistance, Stephanie wrote. She wrote the true stories that weren't being told. The stories of overworked and underpaid Americans.

Written in honest, heart-rending prose and with great insight, Maid explores the underbelly of upper-middle class America and the reality of what it's like to be in service to them. "I'd become a nameless ghost," Stephanie writes. With this book, she gives voice to the "servant" worker, those who fight daily to scramble and scrape by for their own lives and the lives of their children.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Heartfelt and powerful...Land's love for her daughter ("We were each other's moon and sun") shines brightly through the pages of this beautiful, uplifting story of resilience and survival." - Publishers Weekly

"Starred Review. An important memoir that should be required reading for anyone who has never struggled with poverty." - Kirkus

"Land has perhaps succeeded in having her story told by virtue of her eventual triumph in escaping the grind of poverty. Her journey offers an illuminating read that should inspire outrage, hope, and change." - Library Journal

"Land's prose is vivid and engaging... [A] tightly-focused, well-written memoir... an incredibly worthwhile read." - Roxane Gay, New York Times bestselling author of Bad Feminist and Hunger: A Memoir

"In Maid, Stephanie Land, a gifted storyteller with an eye for details you'll never forget, exposes what it's like to exist in America as a single mother, working herself sick cleaning our dirty toilets, one missed paycheck away from destitution. It's a perspective we seldom see represented firsthand - and one we so desperately need right now. Timely, urgent, and unforgettable, this is memoir at its very best." - Susannah Cahalan, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness

"A sad and hopeful tale of being on the outside looking in, the author makes us wonder how'd we fare scrubbing and vacuuming away the detritus of an affluence that always seems beyond reach." - Steve Dublanica, New York Times bestselling author of Waiter Rant

"As a solo mom and former house cleaner, this brave book resonated with me on a very deep level...This memoir of resilience and love has never been more necessary." - Domenica Ruta, New York Times bestselling author of With or Without You

This information about Maid was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

Write your own reviewwrite your own review

Cathryn Conroy

Powerful and Heartbreaking: It's Impossible to Read This Book and Not Become More Compassionate
This is a hard book to read. Let me amend that a bit. It is an engrossing, gripping, and frightening book to read. It is hard to read not because it is difficult to understand or written in a mind-boggling way; it is hard to read because it is heartbreaking. It is also one of those books that could actually change—or just slightly shift—the way you think about those who don't have enough.

Author Stephanie Land grew up in Washington state and Alaska in a family that did have enough—but barely. She started working at a young age, first babysitting and later in cafes and bars. She was making ambitious plans to go to college when she realized she was pregnant. Sadly, the father was a summer fling, who was angry Stephanie wouldn't have an abortion. Her story is one that is all too familiar. By quilting together a haphazard, convoluted, and sometimes unreliable patchwork of food stamps, WIC coupons, housing vouchers, and minimum-wage jobs, she and her daughter, Mia, managed. Barely. The primary job she held was that of a "maid." We're not talking a fancy apron in a fancy house. We're talking the cleaning woman. One or two houses a day—if she was lucky. She earned an hourly wage, and there was no sick time, vacation time, or health care. If she didn't work, she didn't get paid. And it only took one catastrophe to make her fragile house of cards come tumbling down.

It's impossible to read this extraordinarily well-written book and not feel compassion for Stephanie and all the single mothers like her who struggle every day just to get by. It's called survival, and most of us reading this book will (thankfully) never experience just how scary and degrading it is to live like this. But readers who immerse themselves in Stephanie Land's story will, I have no doubt, come away thinking differently. And that, to my way of thinking, is the true power of books.

Bonus: Go along with Stephanie into a myriad of homes and peek into some very personal and surprising details of their lives. Yes, if you're fortunate enough to employ someone to clean your house, she is most likely snooping on you!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

More Information

Journalist Stephanie Land's work has been featured in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, Vox, Salon, and many other outlets. She focuses on social and economic justice as a writing fellow through both the Center for Community Change and the Economic Hardship Reporting Project.

More Author Information

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

More Recommendations

Readers Also Browsed . . .

more biography/memoir...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Join our inner reading circle, go ad-free and get way more!

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: The Ascent
    The Ascent
    by Adam Plantinga
    Adam Plantinga's brilliant debut novel, The Ascent, introduces readers to former Detroit police ...
  • Book Jacket: The Curse of Pietro Houdini
    The Curse of Pietro Houdini
    by Derek B. Miller
    Derek B. Miller's sixth novel, The Curse of Pietro Houdini, opens in the town of Cassino, Italy, in ...
  • Book Jacket: Our Moon
    Our Moon
    by Rebecca Boyle
    In Our Moon: How Earth's Celestial Companion Transformed the Planet, Guided Evolution, and Made Us ...
  • Book Jacket: Neighbors and Other Stories
    Neighbors and Other Stories
    by Diane Oliver
    The history of American segregation, along with changes to it in the 1960s, is sometimes taught and ...

BookBrowse Book Club

Book Jacket
Mockingbird Summer
by Lynda Rutledge
A powerful and emotional coming-of-age novel set in the 1960s by the bestselling author of West with Giraffes.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Strong Passions
    by Barbara Weisberg

    Shocking revelations of a wife's adultery in 19th New York explode in an incendiary trial exposing the upper-crust and its secrets.

  • Book Jacket

    Leaving
    by Roxana Robinson

    An engrossing exploration of the vows we make to one another and what we owe to others and ourselves.

Win This Book
Win The Cleaner

The Cleaner
by Brandi Wells

Rarely has cubicle culture been depicted in such griminess or with such glee."
PW (starred review)

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

I Wouldn't T H W A T-F P

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.