Summary of Heartland
From HEARTLAND: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth by Sarah Smarsh. Copyright © 2018 by Sarah Smarsh. Reprinted by permission of Scribner, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc. y
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“You got what you worked for, we believed. There was some truth to that. But it was not the whole truth.” So says Sarah Smarsh, who grew up in a family of working poor people in Wichita and rural Kansas in a country known for affluence and opportunity. Her mother and grandmother were both teenage moms; her father was a small-time carpenter and her grandfather was a farmer. In this beautifully crafted, timely and stirring memoir of living below the poverty line, Smarsh explores the cultural forces driving America’s socioeconomics, drawing from her experiences and those of her extended family. She discusses the plagues of ill health, addiction, depression, social stigmatization and lack of opportunity that America’s working poor suffer. She writes with warmth, clarity, soul and remarkably little self-pity, though her contempt for cultural forces that punish poor people comes through with force. Hers is a candid look at the myth of the American Dream, the hard facts of economic inequality and society’s disdain for the poor.
In this summary, you will learn
- What Sarah Smarsh and her extended family experienced living below the poverty line in Wichita and rural Kansas,
- What impact societal attitudes have on poor and working class people, and
- How economic inequality and the class divide affect Americans trapped below the poverty line.
About the Author
Journalist and author Sarah Smarsh, a former Joan Shorenstein Fellow at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, now lives in Kansas. She speaks frequently on economic inequality.