Squeezed : Why Our Families Can't Afford America
by Quart, Alissa

1 Inconceivable: Pregnant and Squeezed
2 Hyper-Educated and Poor
3 Extreme Day Care: The Deep Cost of American Work
4 Outclassed: Life At the Bottom of the Top
5 The Nanny's Struggle
6 Uber Dads: Moonlighting In the Gig Economy
7 The Second Act Industry: Or the Midlife Do-Over Myth
8 Squeezed Houses
9 The Rise of 1 Percent Television
10 Squeezed By the Robots
Conclusion: The Secret Life of Inequality249(18)

"Squeezed" weaves together intimate reporting with sharp and lively critique to show how the high cost of parenthood and our increasingly unstable job market have imploded the middle-class American Dream for many families, and offers surprising solutionsfor how we might change things. Families today are squeezed on every side-from high childcare costs and harsh employment policies to workplaces without paid family leave or even dependable and regular working hours. Many realize that attaining the standard of living their parents managed has become impossible. Alissa Quart, executive editor of the Economic Hardship Reporting Project, examines the lives of many middle-class Americans who can now barely afford to raise children. Through gripping firsthandstorytelling, Quart shows how our country has failed its families. Her subjects-from professors to lawyers to caregivers to nurses-have been wrung out by a system that doesn't support them, and enriches only a tiny elite. Interlacing her own experiencewith close-up reporting on families that are just getting by, Quart reveals parenthood itself to be financially overwhelming, except for the wealthiest. She offers real solutions to these problems, including outlining necessary policy shifts, as well as detailing the DIY tactics some families are already putting into motion, and argues for the cultural reevaluation of parenthood and caregiving. Written in the spirit of Barbara Ehrenreich and Jennifer Senior, Squeezed is an eye-opening page-turner. Powerfully argued, deeply reported, and ultimately hopeful, it casts a bright, clarifying light on families struggling to thrive in an economy that holds too few options. It will make readers think differently about their lives and those of their neighbors"-

Is there even an American middle class anymore? Examining her own hardships as an erstwhile member of the "Middle Precariat," Quart (Republic of Outsiders?, 2013) probes the myriad difficulties families face in a postrecession landscape. Quart's own family struggles inform this exploration, as does her work for Barbara Ehrenreich's Economic Hardship Reporting Project. Examining the forces that squeeze American workers and their families, the the book recounts stories of the debt-laden intelligentsia, the "hand-to-mouth" wealthy, care workers of all stripes (day-care providers, nurses, and other pink-collar professions). Quart also shares stories of ersatz solutions, such as communal housing, gig jobs such as Uber, and those struggling for an encore career after the first evaporates. Touching on coping mechanisms like "bling porn" on television and Instagram as well as the insidious reach of robot labor eliminating decent-paying jobs, Quart pulls together the many strands of culture that affect the families of Squeezed. First-person interviews and profiles of her peers bring a human face to the stress and suffering of families struggling to get by in a nation that formerly prided itself on a vibrant, thriving middle class. A thorough and moving profile of U.S. families in a time of crisis. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

Fighting to stay in the middle class. "The middle class is endangered on all sides," argues journalist Quart (Republic of Outsiders: The Power of Amateurs, Dreamers, and Rebels, 2014, etc.), executive editor of the Economic Hardship Reporting Project, a nonprofit journalism group. In this highly thoughtful and compassionate account, she describes the forces that are making the traditional aspects of the "American Dream" out of reach for many Americans. "It's not your fault….The problem is systemic," she writes. She cites the rising costs of education, health care, rent, and day care as well as the negative effects of unstable work hours, declining unionism, the gig and freelance economy, the bias against mothers and older workers, automation, and the political shift to the right. In chapters highlighting the experiences of men and women (especially pregnant and single-parent), Quart demonstrates that the social system has left the middle class "stranded, stagnant, and i mpotent." The biggest culprit is "growing income inequality." Many people who "believed that their training or background would ensure that they would be properly, comfortably middle-class" are now " ‘fronting' as bourgeois while standing on a pile of debt." The author delivers painful portraits of underemployed law school graduates, Uber-driving schoolteachers, and adjunct college professors—the "hyper-educated poor"—who earn less than $20,000 annually and shop exclusively at thrift shops. Often wracked by self-blame, isolated, and ashamed of their lack of money, those interviewed by Quart wonder how they are supposed to survive "doing what we love" in a society that undervalues caring and intellect and lacks subsidized day care and affordable housing. Some readers may balk at Quart's concern over the "psychological burden" facing upper-middle-class denizens in overpriced cities, but she offers excellent discussions of co-parenting, the problems facing imm i grants, and the perils of enrolling in for-profit schools. Well-written, wide-ranging, and vital to understanding American life today. Copyright Kirkus 2018 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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