Nickel and Dimed - Barbara Ehrenreich

Nickel and Dimed

By Barbara Ehrenreich

  • Release Date: 2010-04-01
  • Genre: Social Science
Score: 3.5
From 81 Ratings


Our sharpest and most original social critic goes "undercover" as an unskilled worker to reveal the dark side of American prosperity.

Millions of Americans work full time, year round, for poverty-level wages. In 1998, Barbara Ehrenreich decided to join them. She was inspired in part by the rhetoric surrounding welfare reform, which promised that a job -- any job -- can be the ticket to a better life. But how does anyone survive, let alone prosper, on $6 an hour? To find out, Ehrenreich left her home, took the cheapest lodgings she could find, and accepted whatever jobs she was offered. Moving from Florida to Maine to Minnesota, she worked as a waitress, a hotel maid, a cleaning woman, a nursing-home aide, and a Wal-Mart sales clerk. She lived in trailer parks and crumbling residential motels. Very quickly, she discovered that no job is truly "unskilled," that even the lowliest occupations require exhausting mental and muscular effort. She also learned that one job is not enough; you need at least two if you int to live indoors.

Nickel and Dimed reveals low-rent America in all its tenacity, anxiety, and surprising generosity -- a land of Big Boxes, fast food, and a thousand desperate stratagems for survival. Read it for the smoldering clarity of Ehrenreich's perspective and for a rare view of how "prosperity" looks from the bottom. You will never see anything -- from a motel bathroom to a restaurant meal -- in quite the same way again.


  • Hated it!

    By JFlo412
    There were so many moments in this books that got too slow because of details that could have been avoided. Unfortunately, I had to read this for a class otherwise I wouldn't have gotten threw the book. Dreadful on the delivery of the experience. It's was a good concept but started to get hard to follow when she stopped telling the story and started interacting with the characters. Hated it!
  • Not the whole story

    By KellieArabia
    A worthless read