I found Sarah Smarsh's Heartland fascinating and informative. She has a writing style that is precise in delivering its message. It flows and is written in such a way that it feels like Smarsh is speaking directly to one person, which may be due to the fact that the book is actually written to an unborn daughter, August, that never existed. I found the approach fascinating, and it made the book more personal. Having grown up in a rural area myself, and in a family that certainly wasn't "well-off" by any stretch of the imagination, I had no trouble relating to the overall story and struggles Smarsh described.
Smarsh makes quite a few valid points and provides credible, well-researched information to back them up. Heartland is a more personal look into the rural middle class culture and economic situation than other books that cover this subject. My only complaint would be that it felt like Smarsh was blaming her family's teen pregnancies/single motherhood/being tied to dangerous men on being poor, when in reality, that comes down to a choice of whether to abstain or not. Just because you're poor, doesn't mean you have to be promiscuous. Smarsh herself proved that, abstaining in order to make sure she was never tied down or held back from her goals.
The teen mother/single mother issue is more an issue of raising and a personal and moral choice. All the issues that were a result of a teen pregnancy could have been avoided simply by choosing not to have premarital sex. So I don't think it's quite fair to blame your teen mom/single mom status on your economic status. There's quite a few of us who grew up poor without getting pregnant and tied down. Now, maybe I'm misreading Smarsh's intent regarding this subject, so I say all of this completely open to discussion. I just don't agree with blaming bad choices on your economic status.
Other than that one issue, I thoroughly enjoyed Heartland and would highly recommend it. It is enlightening and informative, and really an excellent look into economic issues faced by many in this country.
I give it a 8/10.
Liz Austin. Bibliophile. Writer. Book hoarder. I would rather be reading....