There is a common belief that creates a vicious cycle and deepens the gap between social and economic classes here in the US and in many other countries in the world. The idea of the book, straight from the title HEARTLAND: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth is to break that myth and pour some very well-deserved light into those heroic women (and some men too) who embodied feminism without even knowing they were doing it.
Sarah Smarsh, The Woman Who Broke The Cycle
Sarah Smarsh was born in 1980 in Kansas. Her family had been occupying the rural territory for five generations and they were always broke. The book is an autobiography that sets out to tell her story and by doing so addressing some deep issues that are inside the heads of all American, crystalized, unquestioned.
She was the product of a teenage pregnancy and it was the fourth generation to be like that. Her mother was her grandmother´s teenage pregnancy and so on. She witnessed since she was very young how the women in her family and those surrounding it were the ones moving forward trying to give their families a better life. She witnessed, was told about and learnt by herself about abusive relationships in which men would beat, abandon and minimize their women. She also suffered society´s abuse and the anonymity she was submerged in because her condition of poor was something to be ashamed.
She addresses the very difficult subject of how society´s abuse of labels can be so deep into a person´s mind that can take him or she to repeat patterns just because it is what society expects. She also adds another dimension brought from motherhood, feminism and struggle that has to do with the matriarchy that literally saved the life of many babies in her family. She gives details about how her grandmother packed everything inside a car with a baby in her arms and left an abusive relationship saving both of their lives.
The prose, narrative style and tone of the book are phenomenal, she doesn´t go with a simplistic point of view on a multilayered subject. It is important to notice that she builds on a particular case to make a statement about the social pressure that lower class rural people receive on a daily basis. She takes the time and dissects it while opening her heart too. She was the one to break the cycle of poverty, not be a teenage mom and be able to tell a different story and feels compelled to put out the effort of generations of women who took jobs no one would just to take care of their children and live a life.
Sarah´s is an intense, deep but not obscure book about motherhood, feminism and love. She is proud of what the women in her family did and that message gets to the reader in a beautiful way.