Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich
On (Not) Getting By in America

81%

21 Critic Reviews

Ehrenreich has a forensically observant yet sympathetic style. It's the small details that make the strongest impact.
-Guardian

Synopsis

Our sharpest and most original social critic goes "undercover" as an unskilled worker to reveal the dark side of American prosperity.

Millions of Americans work full time, year round, for poverty-level wages. In 1998, Barbara Ehrenreich decided to join them. She was inspired in part by the rhetoric surrounding welfare reform, which promised that a job -- any job -- can be the ticket to a better life. But how does anyone survive, let alone prosper, on $6 an hour? To find out, Ehrenreich left her home, took the cheapest lodgings she could find, and accepted whatever jobs she was offered. Moving from Florida to Maine to Minnesota, she worked as a waitress, a hotel maid, a cleaning woman, a nursing-home aide, and a Wal-Mart sales clerk. She lived in trailer parks and crumbling residential motels. Very quickly, she discovered that no job is truly "unskilled," that even the lowliest occupations require exhausting mental and muscular effort. She also learned that one job is not enough; you need at least two if you int to live indoors.

Nickel and Dimed reveals low-rent America in all its tenacity, anxiety, and surprising generosity -- a land of Big Boxes, fast food, and a thousand desperate stratagems for survival. Read it for the smoldering clarity of Ehrenreich's perspective and for a rare view of how "prosperity" looks from the bottom. You will never see anything -- from a motel bathroom to a restaurant meal -- in quite the same way again.

 

About Barbara Ehrenreich

See more books from this Author
Barbara Ehrenreich is the bestselling author of Nickel and Dimed, Bait and Switch, Bright-sided, This Land Is Their Land, Dancing in the Streets and Blood Rites, among others. A frequent contributor to Harper's and The Nation, she has also been a columnist at The New York Times and Time magazine. She is the winner of the L.A. Times Book Prize for Current Interest and ALA Notable Books for Nonfiction.  Ehrenreich was born in Butte, Montana, when it was still a bustling mining town. She studied physics at Reed College, and earned a Ph.D. in cell biology from Rockefeller University. Rather than going into laboratory work, she got involved in activism, and soon devoted herself to writing her innovative journalism. She lives and works in Florida.
 
Published April 1, 2010 by Metropolitan Books. 255 pages
Genres: Business & Economics, Political & Social Sciences, Children's Books, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction, Biographies & Memoirs, Education & Reference. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Nickel and Dimed
All: 21 | Positive: 17 | Negative: 4

Kirkus

Excellent
Reviewed by Kirkus Reviews on Jan 01 2008

Sharp, empathetic, astute, Ehrenreich speaks loudly and eloquently for a group of workers who are often too tired and too manipulated to speak for themselves.

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NY Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Dorothy Gallagher on Jan 05 2013

Ehrenreich, who has a dozen books behind her dealing with the social and political hallmarks of our economic system, has here, with ''Nickel and Dimed,'' followed in an honored journalistic tradition and written a valuable and illuminating book.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Matthew Collin on Aug 30 2008

Ehrenreich has a forensically observant yet sympathetic style. It's the small details that make the strongest impact.

Read Full Review of Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Ge... | See more reviews from Guardian

Publishers Weekly

Good
Reviewed by Publishers Weekly on Jan 01 2008

Delivering a fast read that's both sobering and sassy, she gives readers pause about those caught in the economy's undertow, even in good times.

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Blog Critics

Above average
Reviewed by Bonnie on Nov 01 2008

In spite of the artificiality of the scenarios and the frequent reminder that Ehrenreich is only playing pretend at being poor, it is interesting to watch as she nonetheless finds herself caught up in the moods of these workplaces.

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AV Club

Good
Reviewed by Noel Murray on Apr 19 2008

It's an inspiring rallying cry, made all the more powerful by its compact, entertaining package.

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Pajiba

Above average
Reviewed by Pajiba on Jan 01 2008

It’s an easy read, not great writing, but competent.

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Blogger News Network

Excellent
Reviewed by Nathaniel Jonet on May 02 2008

One of the finest voices to cry out from the dark side of the American dollar.

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Spirituality & Practice

Above average
Reviewed by Mary Ann Brussat on Jan 01 2013

Thomas Aquinas once wrote: "Saints have a heart full of justice." On these terms alone, Barbara Ehrenreich is a modern day saint crying in the wilderness that the poor and the vulnerable be treated fairly.

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Curious Book Fans

Excellent
Reviewed by Collingwood on Oct 28 2011

The result of all her labour is a book that is explosive. At turns angry, outraged, shocked and frustrated, Ehrenreich has produced an account that shows how the almost invisible workers of America’s low wage economy exist.

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Lancaster Online

Excellent
Reviewed by Ellen Borza on Sep 09 2011

An eye-opening look into the lives of America's poorest citizens . . . an honest portrayal of working class.

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Variety

Above average
Reviewed by Lawrence Christon on Sep 19 2009

"Nickel and Dimed" asks us for compassion and humorous understanding. It should insist instead on our anger.

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Teen Ink

Good
Reviewed by Samantha R. on Jan 01 2008

This intriguing non-fiction book takes an undercover look at the lives of under paid workers.

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Teen Ink

Good
Reviewed by Cathryn T. on Jan 01 2008

Ehrenreich present a phenomenal argument and detailed first hand account of life as a low was worker in America.

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Teen Ink

Above average
Reviewed by Marselle K. on Jan 01 2008

After reading the novel, one will have a better understanding of the work force.

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Teen Ink

Above average
Reviewed by ReaderWriter1 on Jan 01 2008

Even with its moving declarations on the dire effects of poverty, Nickel and Dimed often stumbles under its own voice.

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Teen Ink

Good
Reviewed by Teen Ink on Jan 01 2008

Nickel and Dimed opens a door the reader thought had been closed long ago, the lower working class of America, and challenges us to not accept it as a simple fact of life.

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Teen Ink

Good
Reviewed by Hannah Holmes on Jan 01 2008

Because Ehrenriech stepped out of her comfort zone and decided to experience a life she has never known, because she chose to live the life of a minimum wage worker, my opinion of minimum wage workers has changed.

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Teen Ink

Good
Reviewed by Corbin F. on Jan 01 2008

Ehrenreich is known for her controversial writing and Nickel and Dimed is no disappointment.

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Helium

Excellent
Reviewed by Maylin Ramos on May 31 2011

Overall, this is an excellentand absolutely amazing book that should be recommended to everyone everywhere from all ages and class; a real eye opener to America’s economic reality.

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Gather Books

Good
Reviewed by Marsha C. on Aug 05 2009

Whether you are among the living poor, or you have plenty of money to live on, I highly recommend reading this book.

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Reader Rating for Nickel and Dimed
67%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 1883 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


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