“During Sarah Smarsh’s turbulent childhood in Kansas in the 1980s and 1990s, the country’s changing economic policies solidified her family’s place among the working poor. By telling the story of her life and the lives of the people she loves, Smarsh challenges us to examine the class divide in our country and the myths about people thought to be less because they earn less. Her personal history affirms the corrosive impact intergenerational poverty can have on individuals, families, and communities, and she explores this idea as lived experience, metaphor, and level of consciousness. Born a fifth-generation Kansas wheat farmer on her paternal side and the product of generations of teen mothers on her maternal side, Smarsh grew up in a family of laborers trapped in a cycle of poverty. Whether working the wheat harvest, helping on her dad’s construction sites, or visiting her grandma’s courthouse job, she learned about hard work. She also absorbed painful lessons about economic inequality. Through her experience growing up as the child of a dissatisfied teenage mother--and being raised predominantly by her grandmother on a farm thirty miles west of Wichita--she gives us a unique, essential look into the lives of poor and working-class Americans living in the middle of our country. Combining memoir with powerful analysis and cultural commentary, Heartland is an uncompromising look at class, identity, and the particular perils of having less in a country known for its excess.” --Dust jacket.
Smarsh, Sarah. Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth. New York: Scribner, 2018.