"This pioneering new study by Ruth Sidel is an education for the nation. Sidel shatters all the old familiar negative myths and harsh stereotypes about single mothers, and gives us instead the unvarnished truth about their diverse lives, their courageous struggles to raise their children, and their genuine family valuesvalues they share with millions of other Americans. Many of the larger patterns Sidel identifiesthe constant search for a fair balance between work and family, the endless quest for decent jobs and fair pay and good schools and affordable health careapply to all families as well. Hopefully, this excellent and eloquent volume will act as a wake-up call, and wiser federal, state, and local policies will enable many, many more of these hard-working mothers to find light at the end of the tunnel. This book offers a unique opportunity for every reader to walk in the shoes of single mothers and help find that light."Senator Edward M. Kennedy
"Ruth Sidel's dramatic life histories of single mothers make a revealing point: These mothers, especially the poor ones among them, work far harder and act more responsibly than some two parent families. They have to, because their and their children's survival depends on it. Perhaps they are America's true Supermoms."Herbert J. Gans, author of Making Sense of America
"This is a beautiful work of narrative, interwoven with mature reflections, on the courage and resilience of single mothers and the dangerous stereotypes and structural injustices by which their lives are made so difficult in our society. Ruth Sidel is a sensitive listener, and it is this gift which brings forth so much eloquence and piercing honesty from those who share their stories in this strong and stirring book."Jonathan Kozol, author of The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America
"Few readers will be untouched by the pain, loss and disrupted lives, but also the enormous strengths Sidel uncovers as these women struggle to rise above the debilitating stigma and mean-spirited penalties meted out to single mothers, especially those without means. Thoughtful, sympathetic and well-researched, Unsung Heroines is absolutely required reading for anyone working with single mothers and especially for the nation's leaders who shape public policy."Mimi Abramovitz, author of Regulating the Lives of Women: Social Welfare Policy From Colonial Times to the Present
Observing that single mothers embody the best American values-"courage, determination, commitment to others, and independence of spirit"-sociologist Sidel contends that "rather than being stigmatized, they should be celebrated and indeed applauded." Sidel's 50 subjects are diverse in age, class, race, ethnicity and marital status (including unmarried by departure, divorce or death). They recount the different paths that led them to single motherhood, their struggles to provide for their children, and their own feelings of loss (of income, self-esteem, emotional and social support, youth, etc.). They describe the steps they took to turn their lives around and recall the forces (people, institutions and faith) that aided and sometimes thwarted them. Sidel looks back at the different male and female responses "to intimate heterosexual relationships and to the enormous responsibility of caring for children" and forward to an agenda that would recognize that "the well-being of children and their families is the responsibility not only of the families themselves but of government at all levels and of civil society as well." Sidel's mothers tell individual tales, but the effect is cumulative, allowing the author to sound an alarm about the real needs of American families in all their varieties. (Apr.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.