News What We Are Reading Today: ‘Class’ by Stephanie Land

Stephanie Land, the author of the bestselling memoir “Maid: hard work, low pay and a mother’s will to survive,” which was turned into a wildly-popular and critically-acclaimed Netflix limited series in 2021, does not want you to feel sorry for her.

Land published her second, and equally sobering, memoir in late 2023, titled, “Class: a memoir of motherhood, hunger, and higher education” which charts her way out of poverty.

Land, who sometimes climbed actual mountains to help raise her daughter as a single mother, continued with the storytelling style that we became familiar with in “Maid.” Abandoned by her daughter’s father, Jamie, and her own father and, separately, her mother, Land tries to write her way to success.

In this continuation of the story, Land brings us along as she is schooled on all things school-related. She puts herself through college in her mid-30s — at least a decade older than many of her classmates. She also provides insights into her daughter’s journey in the school system.

Always worrying that she would be on the verge of homelessness “again,” Land talks candidly about the shame that went into lifting herself and her daughter from poverty, while wrestling with the idea of who truly deserves to thrive in America.

She writes: “Nothing made me question my life choices more than knowing that my hours spent cleaning other people’s toilets to put myself through college weren’t enough — and that my hours spent earning a degree didn’t matter.”

As she attempts to navigate the crushing loneliness that stems from being a motivated adult with a severe lack of resources, she perceives existence as just her and her daughter against the world.

While she fully acknowledges her white privilege, she, like many mothers living under the poverty line, constantly worry about managing reality with expectations. Land tries to study hard to secure her dream of earning a higher degree. This is while she is also raising a healthy and well-adjusted daughter, Emilia, who had already lived in over 15 homes before she turned 10. Providing stability and safety has been Land’s top priority, but one that seemed so out of reach.

Armed with a meticulous daybook planner and a steady demeanor, she learned to do mental math constantly to calculate expenses. But throughout this, Land kept a pretty solid work ethic and an almost obsessive reassurance that it would all be worth it in the end. It just had to.

Although those reading “Class” now know that Land somehow pulled her way out of the pangs of poverty and into a bracket that many would envy her for, her goal for this book seems to serve a dual purpose. Firstly, she wanted to take back her narrative and find space in the broader world. And secondly, she sought to advocate for other young, single mothers who did not get a semi-happily-ever-after story that they were able to write themselves.

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