Yes, Sarah Smarsh was clearly making a shameless bid for a Top Ten spot on the Heartlands list with the title of her memoir: Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth. But the editorial staff here at Heartlands can’t be won over by gimmicks. It takes good writing to do that, and Smarsh has that in spades.
Heartland takes a strange conceit–writing in the second person to a child she never had–and turns it into a personal, poetic narrative of growing up poor in Kansas. Smarsh has some fascinating characters in her family tree along with all the anxieties and struggles that go along with rural poverty. She combines that with some great sociological insight about what’s going on 2018 America.
In sum, it’s right up the alley of a website devoted to understanding the current Great Divide and the realities of rural America.