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An interesting read about a growing sub-culture of van and camper dwellers living in subsistence conditions. The author immersed herself in this culture over several years and it plainly shows in her candid but gentle treatment of her subjects-turned-friends. Her narrative draws you through the life stories of numerous people, forced mostly through job loss or retirement, into a low- or no-rent living alternative, supplementing their incomes through minimum-wage, seasonal jobs.— Shirley Cagle
Many people are forced out of the conventional way of life by financial hardships or health issues. Some simply choose a nomadic way of life, living out of their cars, RVs and even trailers. The author follows one nomad, a woman who travels around the country enduring long hours at temporary jobs that offer only minimum pay. But foregoing the conventional way of life may be just what she needs. This intimate look at the struggles of the once-middle class is eye opening and a must read!— Suzanne Rice
The "houseless" nomads Bruder encounters travel, and live, on wheels. They're not unlike 19th Century settlers in covered wagons, or depression-era migrants heading west, with one major distinction: for many new nomads, their ultimate destination is the never-ending road.— Mike Hare
From the beet fields of North Dakota to the National Forest campgrounds of California to Amazon's CamperForce program in Texas, employers have discovered a new, low-cost labor pool, made up largely of transient older Americans. Finding that social security comes up short, often underwater on mortgages, these invisible casualties of the Great Recession have taken to the road by the tens of thousands in late-model RVs, travel trailers, and vans, forming a growing community of nomads: migrant laborers who call themselves "workampers."
On frequently traveled routes between seasonal jobs, Jessica Bruder meets people from all walks of life: a former professor, a McDonald's vice president, a minister, a college administrator, and a motorcycle cop, among many others--including her irrepressible protagonist, a onetime cocktail waitress, Home Depot clerk, and general contractor named Linda May.
In a secondhand vehicle she christens "Van Halen," Bruder hits the road to get to know her subjects more intimately. Accompanying Linda May and others from campground toilet cleaning to warehouse product scanning to desert reunions, then moving on to the dangerous work of beet harvesting, Bruder tells a compelling, eye-opening tale of the dark underbelly of the American economy--one that foreshadows the precarious future that may await many more of us. At the same time, she celebrates the exceptional resilience and creativity of these quintessential Americans who have given up ordinary rootedness to survive. Like Linda May, who dreams of finding land on which to build her own sustainable "Earthship" home, they have not given up hope.