IS the American Dream still alive or has it, in fact, been drowned out by a clashing of the classes? Is the upper class destined to rule forever while the lower classes are forced to live in the same cyclical misery?
Millions of Americans fight for the answers to these questions every day, and here, in Scratch Beginnings, one man makes the attempt at discovering the answers for himself. Carrying only a sleeping bag, the clothes on his back, and $25 cash, and restricted from using previous contacts or his education, Adam Shepard sets out for a randomly selected city with one goal on his mind: work his way out of the realities of homelessness and into a life that will offer him the opportunity for success.
Scratch Beginnings is Shepard's response to the now-famous books Nickel and Dimed and Bait and Switch, where Barbara Ehrenreich has written on the hopeless pursuit of the American Dream. This book offers his observation of what it is like for so many people on the lower end of the spectrum, the crappy end of the stick. In this poignant account, Shepard goes on a search for the vitality of the American Dream, and, in turn, discovers so much more.
Scratch Beginnings is unquestionably one of the most engaging works of the social science genre. No matter your reading interest, Shepard's facile writing style is sure to keep you turning the pages.
Recent college graduate Shepard is tired of hearing people complain about what they don't have. In this rebuttal to Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed and Bait and Switch, he sets off to see how far he can get by starting in Charleston, SC, with $25 and the clothes on his back. His goal is to finish 365 days later with a functioning car, a furnished apartment, and $2500 and be in a position to continue improving his circumstances. Along the way, he lives in a homeless shelter, befriends some interesting characters, and learns things the hard way. Shepard is wise to acknowledge the factors that play to his advantage in his experiment (e.g., he's healthy and does not have a dependent family). This story may inspire young people to realize how one's attitudes and foundational beliefs about society can influence where one goes in life. Shepard's conclusions and recommendations seem a bit simplistic but do not significantly detract from the book's overall impact. Recommended for public, high school, and undergraduate libraries.