For this month we recommend:
Some classics for young adults!
Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich
Millions of Americans work for poverty-level wages, and one day Barbara Ehrenreich decided to join them. She was inspired in part by the rhetoric surrounding welfare reform, which promised that any job equals a better life. But how can anyone survive, let alone prosper, on $6 to $7 an hour? To find out, Ehrenreich moved from Florida to Maine to Minnesota, taking the cheapest lodgings available and accepting work as a waitress, hotel maid, house cleaner, nursing-home aide, and Wal-Mart salesperson. She soon discovered that even the “lowliest” occupations require exhausting mental and physical efforts. And one job is not enough; you need at least two if you intend to live indoors.
Nickel and Dimed reveals low-wage America in all its tenacity, anxiety, and surprising generosity — a land of Big Boxes, fast food, and a thousand desperate strategies for survival. Instantly acclaimed for its insight, humor, and passion, this book is changing the way America perceives its working poor.
A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck
Out of a rare American tradition, sweet as hay, grounded in the gentle austerities of the Book of Shaker, and in the Universal countryman’s acceptance of birth, death, and the hard work of wresting a life from the land comes this haunting novel of a Vermont farm boyhood.
In the daily round of his thirteenth year, as the seasons turn and the farm is tended, the boy — whose time is the only-yesterday of Calvin Coolidge, whose people are the Plain People living without “frills” in the Shaker Way — becomes a man.
That is all, and it is everything. The boy is mauled by Apron, the neighbor’s ailing cow whom he helps, alone, to give birth. The grateful farmer brings him a gift — a newborn pig. His father at first demurs (“We thank you, Brother Tanner,” said Papa, “but it’s not the Shaker Way to take frills for being neighborly. All that Robert done was what any farmer would do for another”) but is persuaded. Rob keeps the pig, names her, and gives her his devotion … He wrestles with grammar in the schoolhouse. He hears rumors of sin. He is taken — at last — to the Rutland Fair. He broadens his heart to make room even for Baptists. And when his father, who can neither read nor cipher, whose hands are bloodied by his trade, whose wisdom and mastery of country things are bred in the bone, entrusts Rob with his final secret, the boy makes the sacrifice that completes his passage into manhood.
A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry
“Never before, the entire history of the American theater, has so much of the truth of black people’s lives been seen on the stage,” observed James Baldwin shortly before A Raisin in the Sunopened on Broadway in 1959.
Indeed Lorraine Hansberry’s award-winning drama about the hopes and aspirations of a struggling, working-class family living on the South Side of Chicago connected profoundly with the psyche of black America–and changed American theater forever. The play’s title comes from a line in Langston Hughes’s poem “Harlem,” which warns that a dream deferred might “dry up/like a raisin in the sun.”