Do you really need me to say an anthology was uneven? Do I really need to say it? Unfortunately, I do. I loved some of the chapters and was less taken with others. You might chalk up the difference to writing quality and/or to my personal taste. I prefer the contributions that make their point by telling a story, rather than with a straight up essay.
Then again, I'm a vain middle-class mofo, and this anthology wasn't written for or about me. Lots of the contributions are about extreme poverty, not just what I think of as working class, and both affecting and awful--dangerously callous healthcare and other abuses abound.
Once or twice there was a statistic that I wish had been sourced, e.g. "Fewer than one percent of Americans break out of the class they are born into." in Polyestra's piece, and something from Eileen Myles's contribution "The Sound of Poverty" that I can't find now. Even with a missing footnote, Myles' contribution was among my favorites, perhaps because it's what I was expecting? And also because she's a kickass writer, of course, as is the author of another of the standout stories, Dorothy Allison. I appreciated pieces by non-celebs, too, like Frances Varian, who writes about attending Vassar, where her father is a janitor who got his job there when Frances was a child, specifically so that she'd be able to go there for free when she was old enough, Maria Rivera, of the dangerously callous healthcare and Meliza Bañales who has to put up with a dismissive racist and classist famous poet while she's captive to her drying clothes in a laundromat.
I've read most of editor Michelle Tea's books, so I was disappointed that she didn't have a her own entry, beyond her compelling introduction that starts with her experience of being working class being made visible by a female author in The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton.
I can't stop myself from complaining about the author bios not being in any order that was discernible to me (alphabetical or in order of appearance in the book). It's not just an OCD/librarianness peeve, I don't think. It really is a pain to have to page through the entire bios section to find out the scoop on the author of the piece you just read or are about to read. Or do most people do that at the end and not as they go?
To end on a positive not, the collection does have a good representation of people of various races and sexualities and consciously includes people "assigned female at birth and/or at present identifying as female."