Written by Matthew Desmond, Narrated by Dion Graham
Well before it was nominated for an Audie, I bought this book with an Audible credit. By the time it was nominated, I had read it twice. Matthew Desmond’s story of the poorest citizens in Milwaukee was positively heartbreaking. And Dion Graham’s narration brought the characters into sharp relief.
The book follows black families from the north side ghetto and white people from the city’s worst trailer park on the far south side. The stories are absolutely heartbreaking. Desmond found people spending 80-90% of their income on substandard housing, falling behind, and getting evicted whenever there are any extra expenses. Broken appliances, illness, funerals, and loss of benefits can all lead to forced eviction.
Graham’s narration underscores the desperation of the people in these situations. He reads the book more like a novel than typical nonfiction – taking on subtle voices for each person. This helps keep the flow of the story straight despite Desmond’s, at times, disjointed timeline and location shifts. Graham elevates this book and brings the emotion that is necessary to these people’s stories. In my head, I can still hear Graham’s voice as Arlene, worried about another eviction, wavering near tears. Perfection.