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Heartland
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About the Author

Sarah Smarsh is a journalist who has reported for The New York Times, The Guardian, and many other publications. Her first book, Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth, was a finalist for the National Book Award. A 2018 research fellow at Harvard University's Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, Smarsh is a frequent speaker and commentator on economic inequality. She lives in Kansas.

Reviews

One of Barack Obama's Favorite Books of 2019 "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. . . . With deft primers on the Homestead Act, the farming crisis of the '80s, and Reaganomics, Smarsh shows how the false promise of the 'American dream' was used to subjugate the poor. It's a powerful mantra." -New York Times Book Review "Heartland is [Smarsh's] map of home, drawn with loving hands and tender words. This is the nation's class divide brought into sharp relief through personal history ... Heartland is a thoughtful, big-hearted tale ... Heartland is a welcome interruption in the national silence that hangs over the lives of the poor and a repudiation of the culture of shame that swamps people who deserve better." -Washington Post "Something about Sarah Smarsh's writing makes you light up inside. You feel her joy and grief, fury and hope ... That is how I felt reading Smarsh's book: as if the world could wait until I got to the end. Smarsh's book belongs with Ta-Nehisi Coates' Between the World and Me and J.D. Vance's Hillbilly Elegy as a volume with a transformative vision-a message for a blind and uncaring America, which needs to wake up. Hopefully we will not just open our eyes. Hopefully we will also change. -The American Conservative "Smart, nuanced and atmospheric ... Heartland deepens our understanding of the crushing ways in which class shapes possibility in this country. It's an unsentimental tribute to the working-class people Smarsh knows - the farmers, office clerks, trash collectors, waitresses - whose labor is often invisible or disdained." -NPR Books "In her sharply-observed, big-hearted memoir, Heartland, Smarsh chronicles the human toll of inequality, her own childhood a case study ... what this book offers is a tour through the messy and changed reality of the American dream, and a love letter to the unruly but still beautiful place she called home." -Boston Globe "Sarah Smarsh's intelligent, affecting memoir ... [asks]: What's the matter with the American dream? ... Understanding widening wealth inequality in our nation is a project with which anyone who has a conscience should be concerned - a robust, expansive middle class is vital to democracy, and arguably to the functioning of our particular Constitution. Smarsh's Heartland is a book we need: an observant, affectionate portrait of working-class America that possesses the power to resonate with readers of all classes." -San Francisco Chronicle "Combining heartfelt memoir with eye-opening social commentary, Smarsh braids together the stories of four generations of her rural red-state family." -People "In a memoir written with loving candor, the daughter of generations of serially impoverished Kansas wheat farmers and working-poor single mothers chronicles a family's unshakeable belief in the American dream and explains why it couldn't help but fail them." -Ms. Magazine "Heartland recounts five generations of Smarsh exploits in the farmlands of Kansas, from pioneer days to the Obama era, when the author finally breaks into the middle class. The book is a personal, decades-long story of America's coordinated assault on its underclass ... There is rich soil in America's flyover states, and if we follow Smarsh's path, we will find families like mine and the author's, full of sensible, resilient women who may be disenfranchised, but who are also uniquely poised and equipped to aid in the revolution, and in our collective liberation." -L.A. Times "Smarsh's book, a soul-baring meditation on poverty and class in America, tells the stories of her family's wounded women, their farming men and her own wrenching choice to snap the three-generation cycle of teenage motherhood i

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