An eye-opening, topical, and moving memoir of one woman’s experience of working-class poverty in America.
Born a fifth-generation Kansas wheat farmer on her paternal side and the product of generations of teenage mothers on her maternal side, Smarsh grew up in a family of labourers trapped in a cycle of poverty. She learned about hard work, and also absorbed painful lessons about economic inequality, eventually coming to understand the powerful forces that have blighted the lives of poor and working-class Americans living in the heartland.
By sharing the story of her life and the lives of the people she loves, Smarsh challenges us to consider modern-day America from a different perspective. Combining memoir with powerful analysis and cultural commentary, Heartland is a searing, uncompromising look at class, identity, and the perils of having less in a country known for its excess.
‘Sarah Smarsh is one of America’s foremost writers on class. Heartland is about an impossible dream for anyone born into poverty — a leap up in class, doubly hard for a woman. Smarsh’s journey from a little girl into adulthood in Kansas speaks to tens of thousands of girls now growing up poor in what so many dismiss as ‘flyover country.’ Heartland offers a fresh and riveting perspective on the middle of the nation all too often told through the prism of men.’
Dale Maharidge, author of Pulitzer Prize-winning And Their Children After Them
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‘Sarah Smarsh — tough-minded and rough-hewn — draws us into the real lives of her family, barely making it out there on the American plains. There’s not a false note. Smarsh, as a writer, is Authentic with a capital A … This is just what the world needs to hear.’
George Hodgman, author of Bettyville
‘[A] powerful message of class bias ... A potent social and economic message [is] embedded within an affecting memoir.’
Kirkus, starred review