Fox Cities Reads: Evicted

Thursday, December 6, 2018


Contributor: Ashley Thiem-Menning, Fox Cities Book Festival President and Assistant Director at Kaukauna Public Library

When I reflect upon Matthew Desmond’s visit to the Fox Cities for the 2019 Fox Cities Reads, I think about a sentence I read in Yaa Gyasi’s book Homegoing that will always stay with me. She wrote, “It was the way most people lived their lives, on upper levels, not stopping to peer underneath.”

Peering beneath the surface is not always easy because often times what we learn makes us uncomfortable. Pulitzer-prize winning book Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City does just that, which is why we selected it as our community read for 2019. Books that fall outside of our comfort zones are often the most profound to us. Although the events in the book happened in Milwaukee, those same things are happening to people in our communities.

Matthew Desmond raises the question, “Do we believe that housing is a right?” While I will let you answer that question for yourself, I encourage you to read the book to see first-hand the damage evictions have on families and how they create a downward cycle that seems impossible to break.

I implore you to put aside opinions about why or how people find themselves to be suffering from homelessness or poverty and take the time to learn about and understand the issues of why and how it happens. In fact, once you finish reading Evicted I would challenge you to go one step further and read Bridges Out of Poverty: Strategies for Professionals and Communities by Ruby K. Payne, Phillip E. DeVol & Terie Dreussi Smith.

The goal of the Fox Cities Reads has always been to encourage members of our community to read, think, talk, listen and grow together. A shared reading experience is invaluable; even more so when readers are given the opportunity to engage with the author. This is why the Fox Cities Reads has been selecting books with author visits for thirteen years.

Coretta Scott King said, “The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.” So during this holiday season I encourage you to truly take the time to peer underneath while you take stock of your own blessings.

Please visit to learn more about upcoming enrichment programs centered on the book, as well as information about Matthew Desmond’s presentations. Desmond will be speaking to the public on April 11th at 6:30 p.m. at Menasha High School and on April 12th at 10:00 a.m. at Lawrence Memorial Chapel. I hope to see you there.