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Squeezed: Why Our Families Can’t Afford America by Alissa Quart
c.2018, Ecco; $27.99 / $34.99 Canada
320 pages
By Terri Schlichenmeyer
The Truth Contributor

Just about a foot.

That’s how close you are to making ends meet every month: close, but not quite there. A few dollars short, and nowhere near solvency. You feel awful about it, of course, but as author Alissa Quart says, the situation might not be your fault. In her book Squeezed, she explains how other forces may be pinching you.

In her job as director-editor of a nonprofit organization reporting on equality, Quart sees a lot of things that outrage her, starting with a situation she’s familiar with: a medical emergency and a tanking economy caused hardship for her family once; they had to rearrange their lives and they scrambled to pay their bills for awhile. That kind of thing, she noted, was happening everywhere and it was no surprise that many of the people “squeezed” by such issues are women.

Pregnancy-related discrimination is on the rise, for example, and women sometimes feel as though they can’t ask for pregnancy-related concessions without repercussions while on-the-job. Then, once her baby is born, a new mother may not be able to afford to take time off; when she does finally return to work, day care costs will squeeze her further. That first fact can also include new fathers; the last fact doesn’t touch upon the issues of low pay for day care workers.

But they’re not alone. Everyone in what used to be the Middle Class is feeling the squeeze, says Quart. Non-tenure professors and teachers find themselves needing part-time jobs to make ends meet. People who sought higher education are finding that a degree doesn’t guarantee an income. Immigrants who strove to become part of the Middle Class are finding that they’ve been shut out of the dream. Tech workers, near-retirees, and professionals alike are caught up in the problem.

There are solutions, Quart says, but they’re hard: some people have set up co-parent homes, in which children are raised by multiple adults. Others try to go it alone. Some watch a lot of TV and live tenuously, vicariously.  

And some are hoping for Universal Basic Incomes, and a future…

More so than your average current events book, Squeezed will elicit a whole host of emotions for most readers, and some controversy.

Outrage may righteously be the first thing you’ll feel; it’s hard to argue against statistics and author Alyssa Quart has plenty of those to support what she says about how living in the U.S. is becoming unaffordable for the Middle Class. Some readers may feel a little left out, since location (city-vs.-rural) isn’t explored quite enough here. Other readers may bristle at occasional flippant language. Still others might note that, while most stories are crushing, choice plays a big part a few outcomes.

Even so, you’ll likely come back to that outrage part, for a multitude of reasons that will spark conversations aplenty. You’ll also think harder before you use automated check-outs or search for a caregiver. At the very least, Squeezed will open your eyes to American life and what’s afoot.


Copyright © 2018 by [The Sojourner's Truth]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 08/16/18 14:12:09 -0700.

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