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Squeezed: Why Our Families Can't Afford America

3.56  ·  Rating details ·  89 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
One of TIME’s Best New Books to Read This Summer

“Brilliant—a keen, elegantly written, and scorching account of the American family today. Through vivid stories, sharp analysis and wit, Quart anatomizes the middle class’s fall while also offering solutions and hope.” 
   — Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed

Families today are squeezed on every side—from high child
ebook, 320 pages
Published June 26th 2018 by Ecco
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Cheryl It really doesn't offer solutions. Some "at large" suggestions that will require societal and governmental change. If you are a "Squeezee" it may…more It really doesn't offer solutions. Some "at large" suggestions that will require societal and governmental change. If you are a "Squeezee" it may just make you feel more hopeless. I think the book is most useful to explain the plight of squeezed families to those who think people should just be able to work themselves out of poverty. But, unfortunately most of them don't get it, and just don't care. The only thing it might do is serve to make you feel less alone, and help you to understand and internalize that where you are is not your fault. Lots of us did as we were advised and thought we made good choices. We aren't responsible for the landscape having changed. The book does bring this home.(less)

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May 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-arcs
Rating: 3.5 stars

I’ve read several books that focus on the struggles faced by people living in poverty (such as Matthew Desmond’s Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City). I had not, however, read anything focused on the struggles of those in the middle class, so when I saw this book, I was eager to read it.

In Squeezed, Quart shares the difficulties faced by families, from the lower middle-class all the way up to the upper middle-class. Whether they are highly educated or not, each of t
Jul 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult-nonfiction
A primary focus of this book seemed to me to be how very difficult and expensive it has become to have and raise kids in the USA today. She did talk about people who have lost jobs in midlife and their struggles to find another job; about the gig economy; about the rising cost of housing and education; and about automation. But she always circled back to the costs associated with having children and her own induction into the ranks of squeezed parents. She notes that care work is routinely deval ...more
Sarah Canfield
May 25, 2018 rated it liked it
3 stars for the educational value, 2 for the conclusions. The author is a journalist and knows how to tell a story. All of the real life people she interviews demonstrate clearly the challenge of living in our current economy where housing and rent/mortgages have been rising while wages have stagnated. She shows how this impacts people across the economic spectrum from those with low income to those with upper middle class income. I came away understanding why people feel squeezed. The challenge ...more
A really thoughtful look at why it is the middle class is so frequently squeezed -- why we can't afford houses or luxuries that were once available to our parents and why it is we'll never be as well off as our parents were. It's about the value of many industries and how the value has declined; specifically, this book looks at things like child care work, teaching, and even law, and how those jobs which were once seen as important are now among the quickest disappearing, least paid, and most ne ...more
Rachel León
Jul 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018, read-in-2018
There have been a few books out (Evicted, Nickel and Dimed, etc.) that look at poverty, but this book looks at the financial issues of the middle class. Quart examines problems of educated people who can't get a job--professors, teachers, lawyers, nurses--or who simply aren't making enough money, as well as the devaluation of care workers and families. At times the book doesn't quite delve into topics as deeply as I'd like, but overall it's a great comprehensive look at why so many Americans are ...more
Jul 08, 2018 rated it it was ok
The difficulty in assessing this subject material is that it is clearly a pressing and urgent issue in today's society and family economics. I've asked the question hundreds of times, "how can the average family afford rent/mortgage, child care, and other essentials in today's America?" The answer: not easily, and not really.

Squeezed arrives at that conclusion quickly, and returns to it frequently. The differing motifs are a nice touch, but it was really difficult to get an idea of how the diffe
Jul 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was kind of a scary and sad read.

Scary because it’s horrible that so many people are unemployed/underemployed at a time in life when they should be closer to retirement age. Sad because, according to this book, a lot of the same people are going back to school and going further into debt, and the result doesn’t always mean ending up with a well-paying job.

A lot of this book was focused on the struggles of parents, especially working women. As someone who is childfree I’m thankful about not
Jul 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It should be no secret that the middle class has been shrinking for some time, and that income disparity has reached levels not seen in the US since just before the Great Depression. Quart does a very good job of laying out the problems facing the middle class today, with many personal stories to bolster the data. The middle class is being squeezed for a variety of reasons, including the rising cost of living, a shortage of affordable daycare options for working parents, the shrinking of traditi ...more
Jun 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: to-review
A sort-of Nickel and Dimed but for struggling/downwardly mobile middle-class, educated, under-employed families. It is very well-researched, although she stays primarily within the confines of two-partner M/F families and single moms (rarely, single dads), and lots to think about - although if you already have a lot of anxiety about debt, income, future earnings, job stability etc., this will probably exacerbate that, it's not a calming book.
Apr 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Every woman alive today has been experiencing this their whole lives. Family or career? Pick one and you are screwed. Want to have kids- no career for you! Want a career- no kids for you! Kids or money, those are your choices. Unless you are willing to settle for nothing or come from money. Sad country we live in since WW2. We, as a society, really hate kids. We like them as trinkets on charm bracelets but expect them to raise themselves to become cogs in the wheel of business to earn money for ...more
Apr 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Thorough. Sobering, alarming. Readers will be doused with a cold realization of what the future holds. It’s all about gainful employment and how we afford our lives. Place this alongside Bullshit Jobs by Graeber and Gigged by Kessler.

Access to review copy provided by the publisher.
Jul 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book was not a fun, light beach read for the summer. It was depressing, disheartening and made me want to jump off a bridge every few pages. This book highlights, with the help of many personal anecdotes, the struggles of the middle class in the USA right now. Lack of safety net, loss of jobs due to automation, stagnant wages, rising housing costs, unreasonable child care costs, degrees that cost tens of thousands and don't lead to jobs, the list goes on and on. I finished it realizing that ...more
John Spiller
Jul 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
"Squeezed" is a thought provoking book. Quart examines the tenuous nature of so-called "middle class" families. What differentiates "Squeezed" from other books on the amorphous "middle class" is that Quart is not afraid to suggest that couples who earn a collective income of $160K a year are middle class and capable of struggling. I've seen some sneering reviews of "Squeezed" who bash Quart for even suggesting that couples who earn $160K a year are worthy of concern, yet ignore the larger societ ...more
Jul 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Really admire what the author is doing here and she offers good info.

A bit focused on the squeezing though that occurs when a child is brought into a life. This adds to the burdens of those less wealthy, of course. But there is no noting that even the class of people on which she focuses can feel this problem less acutely if they happen to have family, such as a grand parent, step in--as many of these people do.

The thing is, the squeezed problem is much bigger than childcare--and she gets to th
Rachel Blakeman
If you like the tone of Barbara Erenreich, this is your kind of book. I don't, so that means I found this one lackluster. This goes over much of the material about the erosion of the middle class: working hard is no guarantee of middle class comforts as it was for previous generations. Plus it has a theme of victimhood, how systems are out to get people. Quart downplays those who have changed their lives for the better, as if they did something wrong by doing something differently than others. I ...more
Apr 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I was privileged to receive an advanced reader copy of this book from Edelweiss. When I first heard about this book, I wanted to read it right away. As a person growing up in this squeezed generation, I have seen first-hand a number of the problems described in this book: underemployment, the devaluing of care professions, and the high cost of childcare. Quart details them with care and empathy, while also suggesting ways we can fix these issues.
Jim Fyfe
Jul 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: All
Excellent. Alissa Quart writes movingly about people working their tails off, just to get the bills paid - and these are not coal miners or sharecroppers; they're middle class people you know: teachers, IT workers, moms and dads. Though she suggests some ideas for how we could make better policies to support the middle class, 'Squeezed' is not a policy proposal book. It's just a beautifully written, heartfelt description of the way we live, now. HIGHLY recommended!
Jul 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Do not start this as a bedtime read, it is hard to out down and when you do you are continuing the story in your head. It definitely is a tale that can give you the "Aha, I knew it, it isn't just in my mind." sort of reaction. A sad tale of the few steering and deciding for the many, and what helps protect their own assets from "the rest".
Jan Thullen
Jul 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars: 4 stars for the stories, 3 stars for the analysis.

Pregnancy discrimination, devalued caregiving, student loans, predatory for-profit schools and midlife reinvention programs, automation replacing people, gig economy as a poor substitute for good wages, burgeoning student loans: so much to consider

Would be a good book for discussion
Roger Schonfeld
Jul 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In this book, Alissa Quart has vividly illustrated some of the ways in which growing economic inequality has affected our families and our lives. Her work has already had a catalytic impact on the political and policy landscape. An important work.
Bethany Barnes
Jul 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018-reads
This was definitely good information and I appreciated the examples the author gave. However, I feel there was an entire lack of attribution to personal responsibility. I think many of the examples given in the book were examples of poor decision making.
Carly Thompson
May 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Engrossing look at the economics that are squeezing middle class and lower class Americans.
Benjamin Turner
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Jul 15, 2018
rated it liked it
Jul 03, 2018
Jonathan Tomes
rated it it was ok
Jul 06, 2018
rated it really liked it
Jul 12, 2018
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Jul 13, 2018
Christopher Nahas
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Jennifer Barger
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Jul 05, 2018
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Alissa Quart is the executive editor of the journalism non-profit Economic Hardship Reporting Project. She co-founded its current incarnation with Barbara Ehrenreich. She is also the author of four previous acclaimed books, “Branded,’’ “Republic of Outsiders,’’ “Hothouse Kids’’ and the poetry book “Monetized.’’ She writes the Outclassed column for The Guardian and has published features and report ...more
More about Alissa Quart

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