This is one of the most difficult books I have ever read. Not due to the writing—which was compelling and eloquent—but because of the subject itself. The eight families we meet through this book are all living in poverty, and all have the constant threat of eviction hanging over their heads because it takes nearly all of what little money they do have to pay the rent for the substandard apartments, mobile homes, and houses they live in. Many of their homes are in terrible states of disrepair and neglect, and the landlords have no incentive to actually make those much-needed repairs. The repairs are done poorly, if at all, because they know there will always be someone desperate enough for a roof over their head to overlook the most reprehensible conditions. If the tenant refuses to pay the rent because repairs are needed, the landlord will simply evict them, safe in the knowledge that someone else will be along very shortly to rent it, despite the property’s lack of upkeep.
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