Myth of the Welfare Queen: A Pulitzer Prize-winning Journalist's Portrait of Women on the Line

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Scribner, 1997 - Social Science - 366 pages
In this extraordinary first book by a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, author David Zucchino sets out to sift through the stereotypes, politics, and pure misinformation about families on welfare. A reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer, Zucchino gives us an intimate look at Odessa Williams and Cheri Honkala, two "welfare mothers" from Philadelphia, a city with a disproportionately large number of welfare recipients. He spends the better part of a year with these women, watching as Odessa constructs livable surroundings for herself and her extended family by scavenging and trash picking. Though her character, spirit, and resolve are constantly tested by family crises, she remains the strong and inspiring center of her large - and largely dependent - family. Zucchino also grows to admire Cheri, a single mother of one son, and a tireless advocate for the rights of the homeless. He watches as she helps one family after another pick up and keep on going. With utter dedication and zeal, and with remarkably little concern for material gains of her own, Cheri battles an inflexible city bureaucracy that in her view makes the already difficult lives of the city's poor nearly impossible. In this groundbreaking and beautifully written book, Zucchino balances his reporter's objectivity with profound compassion. In seeking to answer the question "What do welfare mothers do all day?" he uncovers no easy answers but is able to say definitively: "If there were any Cadillac-driving, champagne-sipping, penthouse-living, welfare queens in Philadelphia, I didn't find them".

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Sovranty - LibraryThing

David Zucchino chronicles the every-day lives of two Philadelphian women receiving welfare on the eve of national welfare reform. Odessa Williams is a 56yoa grandmother who has custody of and ... Read full review

THE MYTH OF THE WELFARE QUEEN: A Pulitzer-Prize Winning Journalist's Portrait of Women on the Line

User Review  - Kirkus

A glimpse into the actual lives of two members of that unfortunate subset of society that Americans love to stereotype and despise: the welfare mother. Zucchino, foreign editor of the Philadelphia ... Read full review



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About the author (1997)

Award-winning journalist David Zucchino graduated from the University of North Carolina. He works for the Philadelphia Inquirer. He won a Pulitzer Prize in 1989 and was later nominated for a second. His book, Myth of the Welfare Mother, won the Harry Chapin Media Award for Best Book in 1997.

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