Rating: 3 stars

Cliff Notes: So many social justice issues in this memoir. While hiking with our dogs during the days I was reading this book, I found myself shouting at Bixby and his friend about some of these concerns.

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

Full Summary: I never put details in my reviews about what the book is about because seriously – just Google it or read the back of the book to find out what it’s about. But I am including the book details from Smarsh’s website because I think we get bogged down in terms like “Social Justice” and turned off by tag-lines like “Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth.” Honestly, I am not even sure I am using the term “social justice” correctly. Read this summary don’t get outraged – I triple dog dare you. Then read the book, and YOU explain where they could have “just done XYZ to get out of the situation.”

Note: Bold type below is mine for EMPHASIS so we PAY ATTENTION.

Smarsh was born a fifth-generation Kansas wheat farmer on her paternal side, the child of generations of teen mothers on her maternal side. In HEARTLAND, she introduces readers to a compelling cast of characters through the generations—grandmothers who act as second mothers, farmers who work themselves to the bone, builders who can’t afford their own homes, children who move from school to school. Smarsh maps her family’s impoverished lives against the destruction of the working class that the Reagan era wrought: the demise of the family farm, the dismantling of public health care, the defunding of public schools, and wages so stagnant that full time laborers could no longer pay the bills. Readers will learn what Smarsh did: the working poor in America are sold a lie. Working hard in this country probably won’t get you ahead after all.

Now I must climb off my soap box and get to work. Let me leave you with this one gem from the book:

What you don’t transmute, you transmit.