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Scratch Beginnings: Me, $25, and the Search for the American Dream Hardcover – October 14, 2008
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"Don't believe the naysayers. The American dream---the fable that says if you work hard and follow the rules, you'll make it---is alive and well." ---New York Post --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the Back Cover
Adam Shepard graduated from college in the summer of 2006 feeling disillusioned by the apathy he saw around him and incensed after reading Barbara Ehrenreich's famous works Nickel and Dimed and Bait and Switch—books that gave him a feeling of hopelessness over the state of the working class in America. Eager to see if he could make something out of nothing, he set out to prove wrong Ehrenreich's theory that those who start at the bottom stay at the bottom, and to see if the American Dream can still be a reality.
Shepard's plan was simple. Carrying only a sleeping bag, the clothes on his back, and $25 in cash, and restricted from using previous contacts or relying on his college education, he set out for a randomly selected city with one objective: work his way out of homelessness and into a life that would give him the opportunity for success. His goal was to have, after one year, $2,500, a working automobile, and a furnished apartment.
But from the start, things didn't go as smoothly as Shepard had planned. Working his way up from a Charleston, South Carolina homeless shelter proved to be more difficult than he anticipated, with pressure to take low-paying, exploitive jobs from labor companies, and a job market that didn't respond with enthusiasm to homeless applicants. Shepard even began donating plasma to make fast cash. To his surprise, he found himself depending most on fellow shelter residents for inspiration and advice.
Earnest, passionate, and hard to put down, Scratch Beginnings is a story that will not only inspire readers, but will also remind them that success can come to anyone who is willing to work hard—and that America is still one of the most hopeful and inspiring countries in the world.
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Mr. Shepard is very aware of how he can only start from scratch as he is; a young, educated man from a supportive family. But his descriptions of others where he lands show that homeless men of various ages and ethnicities did at least as well as he did when they focused on improving themselves. Indeed, he seemed to learn a lot from these other men.
A book all young men should read.
I also feel that eh experiment had a small inherent flaw. Shepard was trying to prove that homelessness could be escaped if one works hard enough. It was evident from the very start that he would be working as hard as possible to accomplish his goal by the end of the allotted one year. However, whether or not he succeeded was irrelevant; the goal was part of his experiment. The other homeless men were not participating in such a scenario; it was a reality to them that probably would end up lasting much more than a year. This reality would be more pressing; it would set a limitation on them that Shepard did not have because he knew he would escape.
Although his book may or may not prove anything about the ability to achieve the escape from homelessness, his motivation was admirable. This book demonstrates the value of hard work and its inspirational undertone renders it a great read for those in need of some incentive to achieve their goals. It does remind the reader that the American Dream is tangible if you believe in yourself and are ready to work hard enough to achieve it.
The book start off strong with a first-hand account of life in a homeless shelter and the hardships and opportunities that homeless people are faced with. Unfortunately, it quickly devolves into an in-depth look at life as a professional mover when the author secures a job at a moving company. From this point forward, the book becomes a serious of fairly pointless and mundane stories about working at a moving company.
The (apparently) faultless author also makes cringe-worthy humble-brags constantly. He can do no wrong and always makes great decisions, while shortcomings and character flaws in everyone else he encounters are never left out.
Another odd factor is that the author seems constantly culture-shocked by non-shocking things. People use profanity? There are guys who date multiple women? Someone might beat you up if you physically threaten them?! Why, I never! Unless you lived all of your life in a sheltered white-bred suburb in middle-America, the author comes of as incredibly naive and judgmental.
Ultimately, the interesting concept of this book is wasted with boring off-topic content about normal life as a working man.
Most recent customer reviews
1) He is a while male who grew up in a middle class family and is college educated and he doesn't take...Read more