Hand to Mouth Living in Bootstrap America ~ by Linda Tirado

At first, you might think that my recommendation for this book is a little off-subject and wonder why I’m recommending it. Read on…

Picture courtesy of Amazon.com

America is changing and there are more lower to low-income people in this country now than there has ever been, and each year there are more people who can no longer afford to own a home or pay rent. In turn, that means that each month there are more homeless people on the streets, and more houseless people living in their vehicles. Each time a handful of people are forced into homelessness of some kind, it has an impact on all of our lifestyles and especially those of us that already live in a vehicle, whether out of necessity or for the joy of travel.

Everywhere I go, I’ve noticed a significant climb in the number of people living out of their vehicles. They are sharing many of the same places you or I might want to park or camp for a night. City streets, Wal-Mart parking lots, casinos, rest areas, public lands and so on. The increase in numbers is forcing town officials to create new laws about overnight parking, and new standards as to what is considered ‘camping’ or parking, more signs are going up restricting overnight parking, more public land access roads are being closed and so on. As we travel the highways, we may often find that one of our neighbors is someone who has been forced into their vehicle and it is not really a choice, and if we’ve had a good life, without having suffered through poverty, we may find it hard to understand how they came to be in that position.

And that’s why I’m recommending this book, with hopes that it will help some folks gain a better understanding of what it’s like to live in poverty and have a better understanding why so many are having to move into their vehicles. I learned a lot from this book; It gave me a much deeper understanding of the challenges that low-income Americans, that try to live a socially acceptable lifestyle, are faced with every day, and how they cope with it. So many people look at the poor and criticize their choices without having any comprehension of what they face on a daily basis. Hopefully, this book will help.

It’s a very easy read, and it’s told with humor, wit and blunt honesty.

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Hand to Mouth Living in Bootstrap America

Editorial Reviews

Review

“The woman who accidentally  explained poverty to the nation.” —The Huffington Post
“[A] whip-smart woman’s firsthand account of what it looks and smells and tastes and feels like to be living in poverty …brilliant and to the point. You won’t soon forget her voice or her message.” —Entertainment Weekly
“Funny, sarcastic, full of expletives, and most of all outrageously honest. . . . Tirado has a way with words that’s somehow both breezy and blunt.” —BusinessWeek
“In this riveting memoir, Tirado shares in vivid detail what it’s like to be a college graduate in the throes of poverty.” —Women’s Health Magazine
“Educative . . . Tirado’s raw reportage offers solidarity for those on the front lines of hardship yet issues a cautionary forewarning to the critical: ‘Poverty is a potential outcome for all of us.’ Outspoken and vindictive, Tirado embodies the cyclical vortex of today’s struggle to survive.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Tirado tells it like it is… Enthralling and horrifying, this should be required reading for policymakers.”—Booklist, starred review
“In Hand to Mouth, [Tirado] uses her piercing insight, coupled with a confessional but unrepentant voice, to open a nuanced and deeply unsettling window into poverty in the U.S.” —Ms. Magazine
“This book should inspire important discussion.” —Library Journal
“The great thing about writing is that it doesn’t discriminate, with regard to race or gender or anything, class included. Being rich and advantaged doesn’t mean you won’t be cruelly exposed on paper as a pompous fraud. Conversely, if you write well, being broke and tired won’t prevent your talent and mental clarity from shining through. Linda Tirado is just a terrific writer. There’s a crucial passage in Hand to Mouth where Linda asks why we all can’t at least just agree that someone has to do the grunt work, and that there’s dignity in that, too. With this strong and unembarrassed account of her life on the edges of poverty, Linda single-handedly re-takes some of the dignity that has been stripped from people without means in this singularly greed-dominated, most mean-spirited generation in America’s history. Honesty has its own power and this is a most honest book. Everyone who thinks things are just fine in this country should read it.” —Matt Taibbi, New York Times bestselling author

“Linda Tirado tells it like it is for tens of millions of America’s low-wage workers—a group that’s growing even as America’s billionaires rake in ever more of the nation’s total income and wealth. The top hedge-fund partner got $3.5 billion in 2013. That came to $1,750,000 an hour. Yet somehow we can’t even raise the minimum wage. Read what Linda has to say and you’ll understand it’s not because Linda or other low-wage workers somehow deserve to be treated this way any more than the $3.5 billion hedge-fund deserves his pay. The game is rigged and we must un-rig it.” —Robert B. Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor, national bestselling author of Aftershock

“When our economy and our democracy are both broken, the story Linda Tirado writes here is simply known as real life for millions of Americans who are going broke every day and feel ignored by our government. Every American deserves an equal seat at the table in the halls of power and a wage that can put food on the dinner table. Hand to Mouth should serve as a red flag to the politicians in Washington and the millionaires on Wall Street, this is why we the people are mad as hell, and we’re not going to take it anymore.” —Cenk Uygur, Host of The Young Turks (www.tytnetwork.com)

“For those who have never had the experience, Tirado’s book allows you to hear, smell, taste, feel and visualize life as a minimum wage worker. It also leaves you with two inescapable conclusions. First, poverty can happen to anyone—even if you are born into the middle class. Second, you can educate people until you are blue in the face, but as long as there are jobs that require sweeping floors, flipping burgers, or waiting tables, we will never eliminate poverty until everyone who works is paid a living wage.” —Robert Creamer, Democracy Partners, author ofStand Up Straight: How Progressives Can Win

Hand to Mouth delivers the message to America’s poorest citizens, ‘You are not alone,’ and it represents a wake-up call to the world’s wealthiest individuals that income inequality has dangerous economic consequences for real people. It is an insightful, heart-wrenching, and at times laugh-out-loud look into how a third of our fellow Americans are living as poor people in an economy that only serves the top 1%. If you can afford to purchase this book, you will be peering into a world you likely have never known and definitely will never forget. Tirado’s words read like a conversation over coffee, but she delivers a devastating blow to our current economic assumptions equivalent to a modern day Oliver Twist or The Jungle.” —Ryan Clayton, Executive Director, Wolf-PAC.com

I’d like people to know that we’re not stupid. Our decisions are not made, nor our lives, lived in a vacuum. It’s not like we’re choosing to eat utter crap instead of quinoa. It’s that we’ve just worked eighteen solid hours and we still need to clean the house and we’re due back at work in eight hours and cooking takes sleep time. It’s the dopamine thing again. You know in So I Married An Axe Murderer, when the dad talks about how The Colonel puts an addictive chemical in his chicken that makes you crave it fortnightly, smartass? That’s actually true. Humans can become addicted to the food of the poor. We aren’t dumb, we know this. We just don’t have the energy to fight it and real food is expensive and time-consuming. And we don’t have the luxury of vanity; we know it’ll make us fat, but why on earth would we care? Are we going to suddenly become less marginalized if we are a size 12 instead of 20? Is that a thing that keeps the rent paid? No? Then we don’t care.

About the Author

Linda Tirado is a completely average American with two kids and, until recently, two jobs. Her essay “Why I Make Terrible Decisions, or, Poverty Thoughts,” was picked up by The Huffington Post, The Nation, and countless other publications, and was read by more than six million people. Hand to Mouth is her first book.

Until next time…

Roxy ~ A Nomad for Nature

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