Poverty is Expensive: Background information when reading Heartland

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Heartland

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

by Sarah Smarsh

Heartland by Sarah Smarsh X
Heartland by Sarah Smarsh
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Sep 2018, 304 pages
    Paperback:
    Sep 2019, 304 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Rebecca Renner
Buy This Book

About this Book

Poverty is Expensive

This article relates to Heartland

Print Review

United Way ALICEContrary to many deeply guarded beliefs about people living in poverty in the United States, most who can't afford the necessities of life are, in fact, employed. The United Way calls these people Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed (ALICE). More than 34.7 million families in the United States (10.6%) fell into this category in 2018, and their numbers are growing. You probably see them every day. They're waitresses, receptionists, salespeople and cashiers. They get by month-to-month and are able to save very little. This is because poverty is expensive.

Housing
One of the largest expenses for any budget is housing. Across the U.S., the growing cost of rent has greatly outpaced wages. Approximately 47% of renters spend more than 30% of their income to rent a living space, and a full 24% spend at least half of their income just to rent one. These expenses are compounded by security deposits and fees. When people can't afford to rent, they might end up staying in a residential motel that costs even more than an apartment. Having to allocate this much money to housing burdens families, leaving them less each month to devote to other essentials like food and transportation.

Childcare
For families, childcare can become another extreme expense. In 2014, center-based infant care cost, on average, $402 per month on the low end in Mississippi to $1,422 per month on the high end in Massachusetts. The cost of cutting corners in this area is extremely high. Less expensive childcare options can be difficult to find, and those available may not offer the same level of care and school preparation that more highly trained facilities would. Bargain basement childcare can also pose health and safety risks, and using untrained childcare providers can lead to learning delays.

Health
Health comes into play not just because those living at the subsistence and poverty levels can't afford healthcare. The conditions of living in poverty often contribute to poor health. From living in food deserts (areas where good quality food is expensive and scarce) to the high price of many fresh foods, food insecurity is a significant factor that can contribute to many illnesses. Other non-health factors, such as living in dilapidated spaces or not having enough money for heating in the winter, account for up to 50 percent of all poor health outcomes reported in the United States. Once people develop conditions that need treatment, that can cost even more. While those living in poverty may have the option to receive subsidized healthcare, those living under ALICE criteria may be underinsured and forced to pay exorbitant out of pocket costs.

With so many things against them, it is easy for ALICE individuals to end up slipping through the cracks.

All facts and stats taken from a United Way ALICE Report.

Filed under Society and Politics

Article by Rebecca Renner

This "beyond the book article" relates to Heartland. It originally ran in September 2018 and has been updated for the September 2019 paperback edition. Go to magazine.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
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 $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Join BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Find out more


Today's Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Monkey Boy
    Monkey Boy
    by Francisco Goldman
    Francisco Goldman's Monkey Boy exists in the liminal space between memoir and fiction. Like Goldman ...
  • Book Jacket: The Girl in His Shadow
    The Girl in His Shadow
    by Audrey Blake
    The Girl in His Shadow by Audrey Blake is a fast-paced historical novel set in Victorian-era England...
  • Book Jacket: Whereabouts
    Whereabouts
    by Jhumpa Lahiri
    Jhumpa Lahiri's Whereabouts has seen numerous comparisons to Second Place by Rachel Cusk. These two ...
  • Book Jacket: Swimming Back to Trout River
    Swimming Back to Trout River
    by Linda Rui Feng
    Linda Rui Feng's first novel, Swimming Back to Trout River, is a powerful meditation on the ties ...

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
Ariadne
by Jennifer Saint
A mesmerizing debut novel about Ariadne, Princess of Crete for fans of Madeline Miller's Circe.

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Morningside Heights
    by Joshua Henkin

    A tender and big-hearted novel about love in the face of loss, from the award-winning author of The World Without You.

Who Said...

There is no worse robber than a bad book.

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

H I T Best P

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

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.