For many students, myself included, it is shockingly easy to become disconnected from society, caught up in the traps of school, sports and clubs. As I learn more about the problems facing today's society through my classes and experiences, I've realized the importance of avoiding such an isolated fate. Like few books I have read before, "Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America" by Barbara Ehrenreich brings relevant social issues to the forefront.
In Nickel and Dimed, Ehrenreich operates as an undercover journalist investigating the life of low paid workers in America. She takes on jobs in multiple states as a waitress, a housekeeper and a Walmart employee, largely rebutting the concept of "unskilled" labor. Ehrenreich's account acutely reveals the struggles of surviving of minimum wage, the taxing physical and mental nature of these jobs, and the poor treatment of most low paid workers by their employers.
Setting Nickel and Dimed apart from any other expose of the struggle of working class Americans is Ehrenreich's wonderful narrating voice and sense of humor. The prose is light and easy to read, with many comical points contrasted by serious addresses of the grave situation at hand. Nickel and Dimed is an enjoyable read, while at the same time introducing a convincing argument for better treatment and increased services for low wage workers.
I would give Nickel and Dimed a 9 out of 10. Enrenreich addresses the grave topics of poverty, government welfare and the current economic climate, her modus operandi being a particularly enjoyable book. I would highly recommend this book to high school students in particular, for Ehrenreich does not demand an agreement with her argument, as much as she brings up stimulating and timely questions about socioeconomic situation and the reevaluation of the American definition of success.
The writer is an Andover resident and high school student at Phillips Academy who reviews books for young adults.