Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America

When Linda Tirado responded to an online forum question--"Why do poor people do things that seem so self-destructive?"--she had no idea her explanation would go viral and result in her first book, Hand to Mouth. This wry, frank depiction of life as a member of the working poor is a frightening reality from which many Americans are just one misfortune away.

Tirado says, "Being poor is something like always being followed around by violins making 'tense' movie music... and they're playing the shower scene from Psycho." Life is a constant source of exhaustion: working multiple low-wage jobs, taking care of children and a home, in some cases attending school (as Tirado is), all while fighting to pay the bills and praying no disaster strikes.

In her intelligent, articulate narrative, Tirado addresses many stereotypes, illustrating their hypocrisy and irrationality. For example, she discusses service work: "I think the sorts of people who honestly think that service workers should be more smiley and gracious just don't get it. They don't get it because they can take so much for granted in their own lives--things like respect, consideration, and basic fairness on the job. Benefits. Insurance."

By telling her personal story, Tirado shows the futility of the theory that the poor are lazy and should just work harder to improve their station in life. She also shows the desperate need for change in a society that mistreats the poor. If readers approach Hand to Mouth with an open mind, they'll likely finish it with a wealth of compassion. --Jen Forbus of Jen's Book Thoughts

Powered by: Xtenit