Maid by Stephanie Land
1. What did you like / dislike?
2. What did you make of the writer's tone and the points of reflection?
3. What did you make of the writer's childhood family life? How do you think it influenced her path into and through poverty?
4. What did you think of the writer's mother? Did your opinion change when you learned about the writer's grandmother?
5. What did you think of the writer as a mother herself? Did you judge her like the doctors (and some others) seemed to? What do you make of her admission after Mia's surgery that she "needed someone to hold my hand, be there for [her]. Sometimes mothers need to be mothered too." (139)
6. Was something about Jamie missing? A description of another side of him? A description of how he got partial custody rights and why he wanted them?
7. Were you satisfied by the ending?
8. Who is the intended audience?
9. What does the writer suggest about the lives of the people whose houses she cleans?
10. What did you think of the books structure -- having the chapters mostly centered on descriptions of houses she either lived in or cleaned? What is the through line?
11. At Wendy's house in chapter 13, the writer comments that she "admired her, as weird as it seemed, hoping [she'd] feel the same peace at the end of [her] life, calmly sorting piles instead of scrambling to make amends or cross experiences off of a list." (128) How does the writer's dream for creating the life she wants drive the story?
12. What did you want to know more (or less) about? (I wanted to know more about the relationships she had in her life -- she does date and talk to friends occasionally -- and less about the details of the lives of those whose houses she cleaned. I felt those parts took away from time she could have told me more of her story.)
13. Does she adequately talk about her family? Or does it leave you wanting more? Do you think she leaves them out for privacy reasons or because she didn't want to talk about them?
14. This is probably way out in left field, but did anyone wonder if the writer and Kurt were going to end up having an affair? (I'm so sorry to even hint at this; I just felt her descriptions of him showed a stronger interest than any interest she had in the men she dated.)
15. Skim milk doesn't actually have any added sugar. Where else did you want to help educate her?
16. Where did your heart break for people living in poverty?
17. Did you read the foreword by Barbara Ehrenreich before or after the text? How did it influence your reading of the story?
I hope this finds you all healthy and surviving the changes. It was so nice to see so many of you the other night on our Zoom call. Thank you again to Lilli for "hosting" us! You provided a wonderful oasis from the scary things that are happening around us right now. My emotions have been hitting in waves as I transition my life from real connections to virtual church service, Bible study, writing class, writing group, and book club. I felt immensely better after praying with my women's Bible study on Thursday night over Google Hangout. Then Dan and I watched Outbreak last night (#5 trending movie on Netflix right now), and I had unsettling dreams all night long.
What sucks right now:
-stir crazy kids (one who draws all over the couch with green sharpie and bites his brother)
-not being able to get my son's vision checked when I think he needs glasses
-my daughter's cancelled birthday party
-figuring out how to home school
-having my writing conference cancelled...and also, you mentioned:
-fears of food shortages
....bearing all of our kids disappointments....
What's good about right now:
-hiking with my kids* and also, you mentioned:
-talking on phone with friends and family
-less air and water pollution (while there aren't actually dolphins in the Venice canals, the water is clearer and fish have returned)
-less time spent getting to appointments, finding parking, etc.
-forced slow down
-chance to practice gratitude, trying to remember that we just need to have enough for today
-remembering that isolation shows we are cared about and is our way of caring for others; our reminder that we are all in this together
And we will keep reading as we are able!
We found Maid to be a readable, compelling memoir, if not the best writing we've ever seen. Our eyes were opened to what is it like to live on government assistance, and some of us will start paying our babysitters more because of reading this. We questioned whether this was really the most powerful and effective story Stephaine Land might have told. We wonder whether she will write about the men in her life at some point. We questioned whether she was the best person to represent maids as she didn't seem to feel like a true member of this group. We wanted more self-reflection from Land. We'll be curious to see what she chooses to write next!
We've had a request to pick a lighter read for April, given the state of the world. It seems I am not the only one bursting randomly into tears.
We're going to bump The Ministry of Utmost Happiness back, likely to June.
In the meantime, join us in April to read Lily King's Writers & Lovers.
Hope to see you on Zoom!
The Tipsy Mamas' Book Club is co-hosted by Corinne Foster and myself, though the spirit of our discussions is flavored by many readers.