On Book: Maid, Mother, Memoirist

Her bestselling memoir, Maid, set in Jefferson County, left off with Stephanie Land aspiring to be a writer. Her engrossing follow-up, Class, leaves little doubt she’s arrived. It hit shelves today. 

Land heads to Town Hall Seattle next week (11/14) to discuss the new book



A personal tale of making your way while holding your own.    
By Stephanie Land
Simon & Schuster (Atria/One Signal) (2023); 288 pages  


Stephanie Land is a damn good writer.

And while it could have been just as much the voyeuristic appeal of gazing at others’ messes through the cleaner’s eyes, America’s readers took notice. The success of her debut memoir, Maid —  which quickly got plucked up as a Book of the Month pick, then spun into a Netflix series — would have most writers drooling with envy.

Her follow-up, Class, shows the time in between scrubbing and stardom: her journey to be taken seriously as a writer, and to own it as a serious profession, without a safety net and while raising a family.

Picking up where her bestseller left off, Class finds Land finally enrolled in a college program to nurture her writing talents. But life doesn’t brake for classes, and often her most demanding homework has nothing to do with school. Bureaucratic hoops that target the poor, and car breakdowns that target the worst timing, seem almost as much a part of her classroom experience as the prompts and seminars she cherishes.

There’s also the dance of what to reveal, and to whom. Land navigates circles in which she’s almost always the odd one out: whether among her much-younger peers at school (“I’d just outed myself to my classmates as a single mom who cleaned toilets for money”); dealing with the fear of declined at the register or shame of her many have-nots among the more well-off parents; or grappling with guilt from doing something for herself, whether a minor splurge or the so-called indulgence of pursuing education as a mother at all. As with her Maid years, predictability wasn’t even on the horizon, a sense her kindergartner was quick to pick up on. (“Like me, Emilia hated surprises. Surprise meant instability.”) 

With engrossing prose, Land relates this slice of her hard-scrabble years with a sociologist’s bird’s-eye curiosity and their subjects’ insight. For some, Class will be revealing. For plenty of others, it’ll be all too familiar.


Class is available at booksellers, including Third Place Books ($28); book info here

Stephanie Land appears at Town Hall Seattle on 11/14, discussing her new book with Sara K. Runnels in a talk called Motherhood, Hunger, and Higher Education. Tickets (including sliding scale and financially accessible free tickets) available here

Chase D. Anderson is Editor & Producer of NWTheatre.org.