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A look at living on the fringe.


Author: Jessica Bruder

Genre: Social Sciences

Reader Appeal: Mature Teens; Adults


In Nomadland Jessica Bruder takes the reader on a tour of a growing population that calls itself the houseless as opposed to the homeless. Most are there for financial reasons by either a job loss or a mortgage gone bad. But there are a few that are there by choice. They may have taken to this lifestyle for financial reasons but learned to thrive in that way of life.

Jessica meets both kinds of houseless. She follows them to North Dakota when the beet harvest is coming into season, to California where there are jobs in the forest service.  Amazon warehouses hire these modern-day nomads in many different states.  In the second half of the book Jessica finds herself a travel vehicle that she names Van Halen. She learns first hand life on the road and all its ups and downs.

Some of Jessica’s nomads embrace their lifestyle. They have blogs, books and even a couple have websites. These are the people that fascinate me the most; those that chose an alternative lifestyle. The stories of the people that lost everything, that live this nomad life not by choice but by sheer instinct to survive they both scare me and give me hope. Scare me because it can happen to anyone, give me hope because these people prove that the human race can still rise to a challenge.

The author gets a little political, it would be hard not to in a book like this. Whether I agree or not doesn’t change the story of real people. When she decides to live the nomad lifestyle I wish she had gone all in, but I don’t think I’d have the wherewithal to do it, I absolutely adore hot showers.

I love books that peek behind a curtain, that give insight to sub-cultures here in America. There are so many. It makes me realize how big and diverse my country really is, and how wonderful that truly is.


Let's Talk About It

Use these questions to spark discussion among family members who are interested in this book:

• Could you, would you live in your car or vehicle for a week? Longer?  How would you adjust?

• Have you ever taken a break from “the world” without leaving home? No social media, or TV? Was it hard?  Have you considered doing it? What would be the hardest thing to let go of?

• Most of the vehicles have names. Does your car have a name? What is it?



All product-related graphics in this article are standard publicity/promotional shots and are owned by their respective publisher.

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