WINNER OF THE 2017 PULITZER PRIZE GENERAL NON-FICTION
From Harvard sociologist and MacArthur "Genius" Matthew Desmond, a landmark work of scholarship and reportage that will forever change the way we look at poverty in America
In this brilliant, heartbreaking book, Matthew Desmond takes us into the poorest neighborhoods of Milwaukee to tell the story of eight families on the edge. Arleen is a single mother trying to raise her two sons on the $20 a month she has left after paying for their rundown apartment. Scott is a gentle nurse consumed by a heroin addiction. Lamar, a man with no legs and a neighborhood full of boys to look after, tries to work his way out of debt. Vanetta participates in a botched stickup after her hours are cut. All are spending almost everything they have on rent, and all have fallen behind.
The fates of these families are in the hands of two landlords: Sherrena Tarver, a former schoolteacher turned inner-city entrepreneur, and Tobin Charney, who runs one of the worst trailer parks in Milwaukee. They loathe some of their tenants and are fond of others, but as Sherrena puts it, "Love don't pay the bills." She moves to evict Arleen and her boys a few days before Christmas.
Even in the most desolate areas of American cities, evictions used to be rare. But today, most poor renting families are spending more than half of their income on housing, and eviction has become ordinary, especially for single mothers. In vivid, intimate prose, Desmond provides a ground-level view of one of the most urgent issues facing America today. As we see families forced into shelters, squalid apartments, or more dangerous neighborhoods, we bear witness to the human cost of America's vast inequality—and to people's determination and intelligence in the face of hardship.
Based on years of embedded fieldwork and painstakingly gathered data, this masterful book transforms our understanding of extreme poverty and economic exploitation while providing fresh ideas for solving a devastating, uniquely American problem. Its unforgettable scenes of hope and loss remind us of the centrality of home, without which nothing else is possible.
Publication Date: March 1, 2016
Hillbilly Elegy by J. D. VanceFrom a former marine and Yale Law School graduate, a powerful account of growing up in a poor Rust Belt town that offers a broader, probing look at the struggles of Americas white working class Hillbilly Elegy is a passionate and personal analysis of a culture in crisis that of white working-class Americans. The decline of this group, a demographic of our country that has been slowly disintegrating over forty years, has been reported on with growing frequency and alarm, but has never before been written about as searingly from the inside. J. D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hung around your neck. The Vance family story begins hopefully in postwar America. J. D.s grandparents were dirt poor and in love, and moved north from Kentucky's Appalachia region to Ohio in the hopes of escaping the dreadful poverty around them. They raised a middle-class family, and eventually their grandchild (the author) would graduate from Yale Law School, a conventional marker of their success in achieving generational upward mobility. But as the family saga of Hillbilly Elegy plays out, we learn that this is only the short, superficial version. Vance's grandparents, aunt, uncle, sister, and, most of all, his mother, struggled profoundly with the demands of their new middle-class life, and were never able to fully escape the legacy of abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and trauma so characteristic of their part of America. Vance piercingly shows how he himself still carries around the demons of their chaotic family history. A deeply moving memoir with its share of humor and vividly colorful figures, Hillbilly Elegy is the story of how upward mobility really feels. And it is an urgent and troubling meditation on the loss of the American dream for a large segment of this country.
Publication Date: 2016-06-28
Made from Scratch by Jenna WoginrichIn a hectic world of mass-produced food, clothing, and entertainment, it's easy to miss out on the simple pleasures of doing things for yourself. Young web designer Jenna Woginrich chronicles her adventures as she learns to embrace the idea of self-sufficiency in all aspects of her life, including sewing her own clothes, growing her own food, and creating her own fun outside of the mainstream. Woginrich's hilarious, heartbreaking, and soul-satisfying journey will bring joy and inspiration to those who dream about a more independent lifestyle.
#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A simple hospital visit becomes a portal to the tender relationship between mother and daughter in this extraordinary novel by the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Olive Kitteridge and The Burgess Boys.
Soon to be a Broadway play starring Laura Linney produced by Manhattan Theatre Club and London Theatre Company • LONGLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The Washington Post • The New York Times Book Review • NPR • BookPage • LibraryReads • Minneapolis Star Tribune • St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Lucy Barton is recovering slowly from what should have been a simple operation. Her mother, to whom she hasn’t spoken for many years, comes to see her. Gentle gossip about people from Lucy’s childhood in Amgash, Illinois, seems to reconnect them, but just below the surface lie the tension and longing that have informed every aspect of Lucy’s life: her escape from her troubled family, her desire to become a writer, her marriage, her love for her two daughters. Knitting this powerful narrative together is the brilliant storytelling voice of Lucy herself: keenly observant, deeply human, and truly unforgettable.
Publication Date: January 12, 2016
Notes From An Apocalypse by Marc O'ConnellWe're alive in a time of worst-case scenarios: The weather has gone uncanny. Old postwar alliances are crumbling. A pandemic draws our global community to a halt. Everywhere you look there's an omen, a joke whose punchline is the end of the world. How is a person supposed to live in the shadow of such a grim future? What does it mean to have children—nothing if not an act of hope—in such unsettled times? What might it be like to live through the worst? And what on Earth is anybody doing about it?
Dublin-based writer Mark O'Connell is consumed by these questions—and, as the father of two young children himself, he finds them increasingly urgent. In Notes from an Apocalypse, he crosses the globe in pursuit of answers. He tours survival bunkers in South Dakota. He ventures to New Zealand, a favored retreat of billionaires banking on civilization's collapse. He engages with would-be Mars colonists, preppers, right-wing conspiracists. And he bears witness to those places, like Chernobyl, that the future has already visited—real-life portraits of the end of the world as we know it. In doing so, he comes to a resolution, while offering readers a unique window into our contemporary imagination.
Both investigative and deeply personal, Notes from an Apocalypse is an affecting, humorous, and surprisingly hopeful meditation on our present moment. With insight, humanity, and wit, O'Connell leaves you to wonder: What if the end of the world isn't the end of the world?
Publication Date: April 14, 2020
Opioid, Indiana by Brian Allen Carr"Full of gorgeous language and wild insights."—Nick Flynn
Set in the beleaguered heart of Indiana's opioid crisis, Brian Allen Carr's timely and tender novel about a teen struggling to find his place in the world—and come up with $800 rent—is at once a moving rumination on the hopeful power of story and a harrowing insight into modern America. It is a book you won't soon forget.
Seventeen-year-old Riggle is living in rural Indiana with his uncle and uncle's girlfriend after the death of his parents. Now his uncle is missing, probably on a drug binge. It's Monday, and $800 in rent is due Friday. Riggle, who's been suspended from school, has to either find his uncle or get the money together himself. His mission exposes him to a motley group of Opioid locals—encounters by turns perplexing, harrowing, and heartening.
With empathy and insight, Carr explores what it's like to be a high school kid in the age of Trump—a time of economic inequality, addiction, Confederate flags, and mass shootings. Through the voice of its unforgettable protagonist—charismatic, confused, searching, by turns cynical and naïve, wise and impulsive—Opioid, Indiana pierces to the heart of our moment.
Publication Date: September 17, 2019
Nina LaCourMila is used to being alone.
Maybe that’s why she said yes. Yes to a second chance in this remote place, among the flowers and the fog and the crash of waves far below.
But she hadn’t known about the ghosts.
Newly graduated from high school, Mila has aged out of the foster care system. So when she’s offered a teaching job and a place to live on an isolated part of the Northern California coast, she immediately accepts. Maybe she will finally find a new home—a real home. The farm is a refuge, but it’s also haunted by the past. And Mila’s own memories are starting to rise to the surface.
Publication Date: September 17, 2020
The Glass Castle by Jeannette WallsThe Glass Castle is a remarkable memoir of resilience and redemption, and a revelatory look into a family at once deeply dysfunctional and uniquely vibrant. When sober, Jeannette's brilliant and charismatic father captured his children's imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and how to embrace life fearlessly. But when he drank, he was dishonest and destructive. Her mother was a free spirit who abhorred the idea of domesticity and didn't want the responsibility of raising a family.
The Walls children learned to take care of themselves. They fed, clothed, and protected one another, and eventually found their way to New York. Their parents followed them, choosing to be homeless even as their children prospered.
Publication Date: September 15, 2010
Heartland by Sarah SmarshAn essential read for our times: an eye-opening memoir of working-class poverty in America that will deepen our understanding of the ways in which class shapes our country.
Sarah Smarsh was born a fifth generation Kansas wheat farmer on her paternal side, and the product of generations of teen mothers on her maternal side. Through her experiences growing up on a farm thirty miles west of Wichita, we are given a unique and essential look into the lives of poor and working class Americans living in the heartland.
During Sarah's turbulent childhood in Kansas in the 1980s and 1990s, she enjoyed the freedom of a country childhood, but observed the painful challenges of the poverty around her; untreated medical conditions for lack of insurance or consistent care, unsafe job conditions, abusive relationships, and limited resources and information that would provide for the upward mobility that is the American Dream. By telling the story of her life and the lives of the people she loves with clarity and precision but without judgement, Smarsh challenges us to look more closely at the class divide in our country.
A beautifully written memoir that combines personal narrative with powerful analysis and cultural commentary, Heartland examines the myths about people thought to be less because they earn less.
"A deeply humane memoir that crackles with clarifying insight, Heartland is one of a growing number of important works—including Matthew Desmond's Evicted and Amy Goldstein's Janesville—that together merit their own section in nonfiction aisles across the country: America's postindustrial decline...Smarsh shows how the false promise of the 'American dream' was used to subjugate the poor. It's a powerful mantra" (The New York Times Book Review).
Publication Date: September 18, 2018
Testaments by Margaret AtwoodThe Testaments is a modern masterpiece, a powerful novel that can be read on its own or as a companion to Margaret Atwood's classic, The Handmaid's Tale.
More than fifteen years after the events of The Handmaid's Tale, the theocratic regime of the Republic of Gilead maintains its grip on power, but there are signs it is beginning to rot from within. At this crucial moment, the lives of three radically different women converge, with potentially explosive results.
Two have grown up as part of the first generation to come of age in the new order. The testimonies of these two young women are joined by a third: Aunt Lydia. Her complex past and uncertain future unfold in surprising and pivotal ways.
With The Testaments, Margaret Atwood opens up the innermost workings of Gilead, as each woman is forced to come to terms with who she is, and how far she will go for what she believes.
Publication Date: September 10, 2019
Th Moment of Lift by Melinda GatesHow can we summon a moment of lift for human beings—and especially for women? Because when you lift up women, you lift up humanity.
For the last twenty years, Melinda Gates has been on a mission to find solutions for people with the most urgent needs, wherever they live. Throughout this journey, one thing has become increasingly clear to her: If you want to lift society up, you need to stop keeping women down.
In this moving and compelling book, Melinda shares lessons she's learned from the inspiring people she's met during her work and travels around the world. As she writes in the introduction, "That is why I had to write this book—to share the stories of people who have given focus and urgency to my life. I want all of us to see ways we can lift women up where we live."
Melinda's unforgettable narrative is backed by startling data as she presents the issues that most need our attention—from child marriage to lack of access to contraceptives to gender inequity in the workplace. And, for the first time, she writes about her personal life and the road to equality in her own marriage. Throughout, she shows how there has never been more opportunity to change the world—and ourselves.
Writing with emotion, candor, and grace, she introduces us to remarkable women and shows the power of connecting with one another.
When we lift others up, they lift us up, too.