What is it like to be poor? If you ask a person who is not poor to imagine what poverty is like, they may say that poverty includes socioeconomic difficulties. However, no matter how poor someone is, life will go on. After all, they may be thinking, poor people are also living a life, just like everyone else. If you find yourself agreeing with this, you might be someone who’s socioeconomic status has limited your imagination of poverty. The book Nickel and Dimed, albeit old, illustrates to those who have not lived at or below the poverty line in America what life is like, through the words of the author’s experience tasting that life herself.
The author of this book is Barbara Ehrenreich, who identifies herself as a feminist, democratic socialist, and political activist passionate about writing on social issues that she sees in the United States. Although she came from a working-class family, she earned a Ph.D. in biology and started a career in writing that eventually lifted her out of working in labor-intensive jobs. She then decided to temporary leave her life behind in order to subsequently write and better understand how people make a living on minimum-wage “unskilled” jobs. She originally intended her work to be a simple newspaper column – but the experience was so vast and affected her so much that she turned it into a memoir