Book Review: The Trouble I’ve Seen

Book Review: The Trouble I’ve Seen

It’s the middle of the summer and a book like this is far from any holiday literature. It’s not light. It’s not optimistic. But it’s worthy to read. By all means! Here is my review with few details to encourage you to read it. Reading it is a real travel: back in time and space. 

The Trouble I’ve Seen

Few weeks ago I finished reading another book sent by Eland Publishing House. This time it was a book written by Martha Gellhorn and it is titled: “The Trouble I’ve Seen” (first published in 1936). The book tells four unrelated stories of people who survived Great Depression in the US in the 30. of the twentieth century. What is most important about this book is that despite describing authentic way of life in these horrible times it is actually fiction. Perhaps I am spoiled by the travel literature that is considered non-fiction but it changed my reception of this book.


All four stories are tragic. The leading characters are people who found themselves in a very difficult position due to financial crisis that hit the country. We have portraits of old and young people who were struggling with their everyday life and they lost their battles. Unemployed, hungry, homeless and desperate. The author is cruel and her description is very clear about hardship of their lives. Excellent description of cold in winter and extreme hot in summer or tiredness of employers was so good I could have imagined all poor houses and burnt field described by the author and felt sorry for the people who experienced it.


Although the book tells stories from this particular moment of the American history the characters are pretty universal. What is most striking about their situation is shame and distaste towards support provided by the government. It is true for all and at all times. People prefer to earn their money rather than just get them. The relief received in a dead end situations of starvation crushes their sense of being a decent person. It strips off their dignity and left them powerless. There is no hope in this book. Not even a small ray.

Worst case scenario

Because Gellhorn writing is so good and so convincing a reader suffers together with leading characters. And going through pages of this book, one after another, you sink into this atmosphere of an overwhelming disaster. By the time you finish the book you feel tired with these stories. And you are ready to protest against any poverty or war on earth. So no one would be in a situation described by the author.


The last story in a book focused on Ruby – a young teenager – was too difficult to read. Although I finished reading the last chapter this was a tough one. The truth is that we are able to understand the difficulties of adults, their anger and despair, but harming innocent kids is something we cannot pass by. The clash of innocence with brutality of life was simply unbearable. And it left me very troubled.

About the author

I get easily fascinated with people and places. I am passionately curious. I get often seduced with the beauty of nature. Blue sky, pure water, white snow and endless horizon seams to be enough to make me happy.

View all articles by Agata Mleczko