Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Nomadland - Jessica Bruder

I don't read a lot of non-fiction, but Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century by Jessica Bruder was a five star read for me.

Bruder spent three years following, interviewing and documenting a group of nomads. But the nomads aren't probably what you would initially think. This group of low-cost labourers is primarily made of an older population. They live and travel from job to job in their RV's, campers, vans or cars. The nomads are those who have lost their bricks and mortar homes, those who can't live on their social security checks, those who have no choice but to keep on working past any retirement date, and yes, those that choose this lifestyle. Working at physical, seasonal jobs at fulfillment warehouses, harvesting crops and staffing campgrounds. They're often referred to as 'workampers'.

Bruder introduces us to many of the people that make up this community. And I do mean community. There are regular meet-ups, connections and on-line communications. We are privy to the details, struggles, concerns, joys, friendships, resilience and day to day lives of a few workampers over the course of three years. A woman named Linda May is the 'lead' if you will - the book follows her closely.  Bruder herself goes on the road and manages to get hired on at many of the same jobs. The difference being that Bruder still has a bricks and mortar home to go to.

For some of the nomads, it's a lifestyle choice, but for most, its necessity. There are workers in their eighties. The workampers are made up of those from wide and varying backgrounds. Don't make assumptions until you read this book.

Nomadland is an absolutely eye-opening, fascinating read. But at the same time, its difficult and unsettling. I was quite stunned by how large this workforce is, the demand for these older workers, how they are used and the subculture. This is a group living unseen, right underneath society's nose if you will.

 Nomadland is well written and well researched. Five stars. Read an excerpt of Nomadland.

If you enjoyed Nickeled and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich or Evicted by Matthew Desmond, you'll want to pick up Nomadland. (Workampers are not just found in the US. I found sites in Canada advertising for Workampers as well.)


Kay said...

I read another review of this book by someone (can't think who right now). It sounded interesting then and it does now. Putting it on my list and may try to find it on audio. Thanks for sharing about it!

bermudaonion said...

This sounds upsetting but it also sounds like something I'd like. I've had Nickled and Dimed for a while and need to pick that one up as well.

Dianna said...

Wow, I had no idea. We have an RV and travel quite often to different campgrounds, meeting so many people. Maybe it's just that I haven't met any Workampers, but would not have guessed that people travel to jobs. It seems like most of the people we meet are on vacation.

My husband and I have commented before that we would like to live in our camper and travel someday. I never really thought about using it as a nomadic-job lifestyle.

Luanne said...

Kay, it was really interesting. I did listen to a bit of the audio version and liked the reader's voice.

Parts of it were upsetting bermudaonion and it does mirror Nickel and Dimed.

I know Dianna, I was completely unaware of this older nomadic population travelling to live.