Audiobook Review – Maid by Stephanie Land

Maid
by
Stephanie Land

Rating:

This is going to be one of those reviews that goes against a popular and well-received book. But it also raises an important question that readers should consider when they’re reading a memoir.

First, though, a quick summary of Maid by Stephanie Land. It’s Land’s story of how, as a single mother, she found herself homeless and had to turn to public assistance in the form of grants, food stamps and similar programs to help her find a place to live and provide daycare while she worked. In an eye-opening explanation, she lists the programs and specific requirements she needed to meet in order to qualify. As a former coffee shop worker and part-time landscaper, she had only a high school degree and struggled to find regular work. She took on jobs cleaning houses, working for herself and also through a maid service. But for a long time, there were never enough hours for her to earn a proper living

It’s also her success story of how she was able to pick herself up and get a college degree in creative writing and eventually write this book.

I’m all for this kind of success story and that’s why I listened to the audiobook version, narrated by the author.

The problem I have with the story is that the author is whiny, chippy and judgmental about the people she interacts with, including her family, who do not support her. I’m not going to get into the details about these relationships, her actions and the decisions she makes, except highlight a couple that really bugged me.

I thought her attitude towards the people in the homes she cleaned was hypercritical and downright shocking. Looking at receipts, going through papers, trying on clothes, snooping through their prescriptions, and the worst, opening up the urns of one family’s ashes and imagining how they died – that stuff is appalling. So much complaining about their bathrooms and the dirt in their homes. It was tiresome.

My other chief problem comes from a highway car accident in which the author left her daughter alone in their pulled-over car to a retrieve a toy that had gone out the window. There were many more things that rubbed me the wrong way, including major facts that were left out, that seemed to spin her story the way she wanted it.

But I want to raise a question about how readers are supposed to react to another person’s actions, when they’re put out there in a memoir, particularly the overcoming adversity type. As I said before, I like inspirational and uplifting stories and I don’t begrudge anyone’s success and happiness. As many other reviewers on Amazon and Goodreads have noted, I’m glad she dug herself out and found success. And if the book gives others in her situation the hope to do that, I’m for that.

I don’t mean to offend anyone who enjoyed reading or listening to Maid. As I said above, I’m glad she found happiness. But if readers feel something else, along with that message, something that doesn’t ring right, can’t we say so? What do you think?

To be fair, I’m sharing some positive and a couple skeptical WordPress reviews of Maid. And you can also click on these Amazon and Goodreads links for a full selection. It’s clearly the reader’s right to like the book, even though it wasn’t for me. Even Barack Obama liked the book, so what do I know?

Visit these blogs for a variety of reviews:

Becky’s Books
Hit or Miss Books
Ink Drinker Society
Arguably Alexis
The suspense is killin’ me—

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

23 thoughts on “Audiobook Review – Maid by Stephanie Land

    1. Thank you so much, Stephanie. It’s a weird thing being critical of a book, because I worry (always) people will think I’m snarky about it. I think there are some excellent memoirs out there, like Educated. This one, however, just didn’t do it for me. Maybe it’s because I listened to the audiobook. The author’s voice got to me. Hope you are doing well and finding things to do at home. Are you on stay-at-home restrictions?

      1. Hi Stephanie – great to hear from you! Same here, but our library extended the closure until April 13. I am doing some work from home. I tweet for the library and we started a blog to share resources so I’ve been contributing to that. Just a couple hours a day, though. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  1. Well, I can’t stand to be around whiny people in real life, so I definitely don’t want to read it in a book. Opening up urns? Oh gosh, I don’t think I would have finished reading this book. Thanks for your honest review, Barbara.

  2. My husband relies on audiobooks exclusively. He is very sensitive about narrator’s voices, which he thinks will make/break a book for him. Me – I like print most, even ahead of those on my Kindle. I don’t see much pulling me toward this book because I don’t like whiny or rant-y. Thanks for the great review, Barbara.

    1. Thank you very much for stopping by, Marian. Your opinion, as a memoir author, is important. I wonder if I would have had a different reaction to the book if I had read the print version. Not sure. I don’t like complaining so that’s probably what turned me off, plus the snooping! Have a great evening! 😀

  3. An author’s voice is key when you’re listening to an audiobook … or narrator. Even with fiction, if I don’t like a narrator’s voice, no matter how excellent the writing, I won’t enjoy listening to the book. It might have been better if Land had had a professional narrator read her book, given your reaction to it. I wonder how it would have affected you if someone else had been the narrator. I haven’t read it. I’m still interested in reading it but, for now, I might just wait until the libraries reopen 😉

    1. Hi Marie. Thanks for reading and commenting. That may have something to do with it. If you read it, let me know what you thought. You may need to wait a couple more weeks for the libraries to open, though 🙂

  4. Great review, and I appreciate your thoughts on this memoir. I think I would be bothered by the things you mention as well. I think I can skip this one, but I’m glad to have seen your reaction to it!

    1. Memoirs are tricky, especially the ones that have an overall theme of perseverance. When readers are critical, people might think they aren’t sympathetic with the author’s plight or everyman’s plight. Couldn’t get over the snooping part – although maybe that goes on a lot. I clean my own house, although it’s never really clean!

      1. Memoirs can be tough. I had a hard time with Wild. I sympathized with the loss of the writer’s mother, but she made so many terrible decisions that it was hard for me to feel sympathetic overall.

  5. Excellent review. She made choices that landed her where she was. Own it. Correct it. Be glad its in the past. I tossed this one back. Nickeld and Dimed in America is better but still leaves out the “choices” problem. Don’t appologize for you opinion–it’s your blog 🙂

    1. Hi Libaray of Life – thank you. Your comment means a lot. I’ve always liked how you say it like it is on your blog. Even Kirkus gave this book a great review. Can’t understand it! I read Nikel and DImed a long time ago – I barely remember it, but the foreward is by that author. Thanks for the visit and pep talk 🙂

  6. Oh we absolutely have the right to say that we don’t happen to like a popular book! I hate that we have come to the point that we think there’s something wrong with having a different opinion, but I understand. I’ve learned to be quiet at book club because I’ve actually had people say, “You’re wrong!” when I tell them how I react to the book. As if there is a wrong way to react to a book. There isn’t. It’s an individual thing…. Thanks for saying what your really thought. More of us need to do that!

    1. Hi Ann – thank you so much for reading and leaving a comment. I do get frustrated when everyone jumps on the bandwagon over a book. It’s like they decide they love it, even if they don’t. And then they never say how they really feel. There’s no right or wrong when it comes to whether you like a book or you don’t. But the trend now is to get fired up over everything that we read, hear or see. We can’t like everything – we’d all be so boring if we did! 🙂

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