Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth

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Deservedly shortlisted for the National Book Award, Heartland is a beautifully rendered memoir about growing up on a poor farm in Kansas. Despite her unstable childhood, Sarah Smarsh writes of her impoverished life with extreme love and care for her family and the place she came from. Her strong, but troubled, lineage comes to life with vivid stories of fear, disappointment, isolation, joy, and hope. Smarsh continually praises the fierce women in her life who escaped male dominance and the kind-hearted men, including her father and grandfather, who persisted to work hard and love their family well.

Determined to not succumb to the strain of teen pregnancy, which was a pattern in her family, young Smarsh imagined a baby girl that she wanted to protect from poverty by not becoming pregnant with her. This baby appears as a character that Smarsh speaks to throughout her book. While some readers may find that Smarsh’s addressing her unborn child is a kind of annoying gimmick, these thoughtfully written passages are honest, sobering reminders of what could have been and are deeply moving. Though not overtly political, Smarsh offers many insights into how America has done a disservice to the destitute and asserts that the poor are not responsible for their distress. Smarsh’s engaging, authentic voice makes Heartland a standout.


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Author Sarah Smarsh
Star Count /5
Format Hard
Page Count 304 pages
Publisher Scribner
Publish Date 2018-09-18
ISBN 9781501133091
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue Mar-19
Category Biographies & Memoirs
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