Review of Evicted

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9 Overall

9 Importance

9 Innovation

10 Style


getAbstract recommends this significant book which earned rave reviews and multiple awards when it was first published in early 2016. Author Matthew Desmond tells the tale of poverty in the Rust Belt town of Milwaukee one person at a time. He describes a trailer park dweller fictitiously named “Larraine” who blows her entire monthly allotment of food stamps on one luxurious meal. At the supermarket, Larraine splurges on lobster tail, shrimp and crab legs. She takes the haul back to the trailer where she’s chronically delinquent on rent and utilities, and stuffs herself with seafood and Pepsi. Even though she’ll go hungry for the rest of the month, she savors this one really good meal. Larraine’s daughter, her pastor and her niece can’t understand why a woman living in abject poverty would squander food stamps on a feast when she can’t afford shelter. Desmond thinks he knows what drives Larraine to choose short-term rewards at the expense of long-term consequences. Unskilled, approaching retirement age and saddled with health problems, Larraine has no hope of escaping poverty. Realizing she’s trapped, Larraine lives for the moment. No amount of frugality would enable a person in her situation to move up, so some people choose whatever small pleasures are possible. In this moving portrait and others, Desmond notes that Larraine – and many like her – can’t bridge the gap between abject poverty and any kind of stability, even “stable poverty,” as each eviction worsens their lives.

About the Author

Harvard sociologist and 2015 MacArthur “Genius Grant” winner Matthew Desmond became interested in poverty and housing policy after his parents lost their house to foreclosure.


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