Squeezed out of the American Dream by the recession and other economic woes, a small but growing number of people are turning into nomads. These workampers live in RVs, vans, buses and cars, and take odd jobs all across the country to survive. Many are senior citizens who should be enjoying their golden years of retirement, but instead are dealing with the fallout of repossessed homes, bankruptcy, medical debt and other catastrophes. One such RVer is Linda, a gregarious and intrepid senior who worked hard all her life, only to find herself broke and “houseless” (a term preferred over homeless). Author Jessica Bruder followed Linda around the country for years, chronicling both her struggles and occasional joys.
Linda dreams of building an Earthship, a self-sustaining house made of mud-filled tires, on desolate piece of land and kicking back to enjoy the fruits of her labor. She must first endure backbreaking work as a California campsite host and as an Amazon fulfillment center employee, a company notorious for overworking and underpaying their senior camper recruits. A cast of other nomads weave their way into Linda’s life, painting a picture not so much of young, freedom-loving van-dwellers hitting the open road, but of a subculture of individuals left behind by American capitalism. Without the trappings of money and things, these nomads have stripped their lives down to the bare minimum and, as such, have a unique perspective to offer about consumerism, wealth inequality, and what it means to have freedom.