Rubin helps along the ongoing refutation of the embourgeoisement of America's blue-collar workers. From interviews conducted with 50 Bay Area families--families who struggle to support two or three kids, a car, possibly a camper or a boat on a median income of $12,300--she has drawn the pinched, uncomfortable realities of working-class life. Unlike white-collar professional families, those she interviewed have less of everything--but especially less of the ""freedom and fun"" that they once imagined goes with adulthood. For the men, job satisfaction, a sense of mastery, is a hollow dream; for their wives, working or not, the world is constrained by time payments, shoes for the children, by the harsh fact that little energy or cash is left over for the enjoyment of leisure. Rubin perceives further that as the economy contracts and automation leads to the degradation of ""skills,"" the choices for the blue-collar family are being sharply curtailed. No wonder that ""fatalism, passivity, and resignation"" are a weary leitmotif running through these life stories. For these people upward mobility is a myth--and they sense it. The personal histories of the women especially make them edgy and dubious about the new sexual liberation. They feel--rightly--that in their world the good-girl/bad-girl divisions still linger. It is, as the title suggests, a world where everyday life--rearing a family, paying the bills--costs dearly, psychologically and physically. Rubin has treated both the men and women with great tact and honesty. Along with Mirra Komarovsky and Louise Kapp Howe she enlarges our view of the progressively narrowing parameters of working-class life.