4 Nonfiction Books That Read Like Fiction
Dive into these riveting, timely reads.
1 of 4
304 pages; Scribner
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The difficulty of transcending poverty is the message behind this personal history of growing up in the dusty farmlands of Kansas, where "nothing was more painful ... than true things being denied." Smarsh doesn't judge her mother and grandmother's choices to become teenage mothers or live somewhat itinerant lives; these were learned behaviors that trickled down from one generation to the next. Yet the working poor are not always embroiled in misery, even if fiscal anxiety is a constant presence. In fact, freedom from class expectation seems to cultivate an awareness of privilege that shapes Smarsh's future as a journalist. Through the arc of her upbringing, we see struggling family after struggling family shaped by public discourse and national policy: "We were on the losing end of a lie," she writes. The takeaway? The working poor don't need our pity; they need to be heard above the din of cliché and without so-called expert interpretation. Smarsh's family are expert enough to correct any misunderstandings about their lives.
— Kerri Arsenault