Scratch Beginnings: Me, $25, and the Search for the American Dream by Adam W. Shepard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I didn't really know what to expect when I started reading this book- would it be sympathetic to the less fortunate while railing on the powers that be? Would it blame the homeless for their predicament? Would it be heavy-handed and holier-than-thou? I was please to find that this is a relatively even-handed account of one man's experiment to see if the old addage of pulling one's self up from his bootstraps could really be accomplished in this day and age. As someone who has grown up in comfortable surroundings and only seen shelters and the homeless through volunteer work, it was nice to see the perspective of someone who has lived the life and walked the walk. One incredibly frustrating thing to read about was how the hard workers were being taken advantage of by the temp and day laborer agencies. The author talks at length about the often demeaning and thankless tasks that are handled by blue collar paycheck to paycheck workers and he has a point that those workers are what really make American business run. Thanks to this book I'll never look at movers and day laborers the same way again! Most of the men featured in this book were hard workers who by choice or circumstance fell on hard times. The author is quick to both praise and scold those who deserve it, sometimes doing both in the same paragraph. While the excuse can be made that of course the author was successful because he has a middle class background, he also shows us that those who have come from difficult circumstances want the same things everyone wants: respect, love, a roof of their heads and a chance at the American dream. I especially liked how the author gave possible solutions to the problem, solutions that could work for members of the entire political spectrum.