Author of Maid
Stephanie Land’s bestselling debut memoir Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive recounts her harrowing saga as a single mom navigating the poverty trap. Her unflinching and inspiring testimony exposes the physical, economic, and social brutality that domestic workers face, all while radiating a parent’s hope and resilience.
At age 28, Land’s dream of attending college and becoming a writer is deferred when she and her seven month-old have to move into a homeless shelter, fleeing a violent home and lacking any form of reliable safety net. She begins the bureaucratic nightmare of applying for food stamps and subsidized housing, and starts cleaning houses for $9/hour. Mired in patronizing government processes and paltry wages, she illustrates the trauma of grasping for stability from a rigged system, and demonstrates how hard work doesn’t always pay off. In a constant state of scarcity, a single unexpected cost–as simple as a car repair–jeopardizes Land’s carefully calculated budget, and shows the impossible slipperiness of escaping poverty.
Land’s memoir offers a unique and essential perspective from the frontlines of struggle, but the deeply personal, intimate details of her story paint a larger picture. The physical pain of her own poverty–like the mold in her apartment, and the “constant burn” and “shooting pain” from cleaning houses–clarifies systemic class barriers and inequalities, dispelling the myth that poor people are responsible for their own predicament and just need to try harder. Instead, Land reveals the real culprits of her situation: domestic violence, untenable minimum wages, high housing costs, and government assistance programs that fail the people they ostensibly serve.
As a maid, Land labors invisibly, rarely encountering the owners of the houses she cleans. But while scrubbing toilets and mopping floors, she gazes microscopically upon her wealthy clients. Their testosterone cream and secret packs of cigarettes unmask a different kind of pain and discomfort than her own, and reveals a rare window into the upper classes. Land detailed these observations in her viral article written for Vox, “I spent 2 years cleaning houses. What I saw makes me never want to be rich.” The essay later expanded to become Maid, which became a New York Times bestseller.
The Boston Globe says of the book, “Land nails the sheer terror that comes with being poor, the exhausting vigilance of knowing that any misstep or twist of fate will push you deeper into the hole.” Maid was named as a Notable Book of the Year by The New York Time and The Washington Post, among others, and was listed among President Obama’s summer reading list for 2019.
Land’s story serves as the inspiration for Netflix’s critically acclaimed ten-episode original series Maid, starring Margaret Qualley, alongside Andie MacDowell, Nick Robinson and Anika Noni Rose. A “story both captivating and relatable” (Fresh Air), Maid boasts an impressive 97% Certified Fresh rating from Rotten Tomatoes and has drawn praise for its nuanced depictions of the realities of poverty. Writing in Rolling Stone, critic Alan Sepinwall observed “little things that would be forgettable elsewhere — a small job going well, a friend opening her door without judgment — land with thunderbolt force.… This is a great one.” Land serves as an executive producer on the project in addition to showrunner Molly Smith Metzler, John Wells (ER, The West Wing, Shameless), and Margot Robbie, among others. The show has reached over 67 million households, on track to become Netflix’s most watched limited series.
Land is currently at work on her next book, Class, about the hard truths surrounding college education in America. Combining personal experience and reporting, the book exposes the high costs, predatory practices, and discriminatory policies faced by Americans who hope education will lead to security and prosperity. With socioeconomic mobility approaching record lows and labor forces hollowing out the country’s middle class, education has been seen as a way out for those seeking to reach the American Dream. “When we think of economic insecurity we often think of the down and out,” Land explains. “The reality is the way we go about educating our country leaves millions stretched to their limits, with almost of half of students wondering how they’ll find their next meal and even more than that drowning in debts they’ll owe for a lifetime.”
After years of barely scraping by, Land graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Montana in 2014, and started a career as a freelance writer. She writes about economic and social justice, domestic abuse, chronic illness, and motherhood, and has been published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Atlantic, and The New York Review of Books, among many other outlets. She has worked with Barbara Ehrenreich at the Economic Hardship Reporting Project, and is a writing fellow at the Center for Community Change.
David Stillman and Jonah Stillman take audiences into the collective conscious of the next generation of workers – Gen Z – and share powerful insights on how they will impact America.
David is a nationally recognized generations expert and coauthor of the best-sellers When Generations Collide and the M-Factor: How the Millennial Generation is Rocking the Workplace. Jonah, his teenage son, is the voice of the next influential demographic group to join the workforce – Generation Z – born between 1995 and 2012 and representing 72.8 million of the U.S. population.
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Based on the first national study of Gen Z, David and Jonah shed new light on these workforce newcomers and what makes them tick. The pair translates these findings into breakthrough insights on what makes this demo group unique, and how to best recruit, retain, and manage this influential generation of workers.