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This quote by Sarah Smarsh suggests that achieving success and prosperity in America, or living the “American Dream,” depends a great deal on factors outside of one’s control, such as where one is born, one’s race or ethnicity, and the wealth of one’s parents. Smarsh is implying that the opportunities and barriers people face in life are not equally distributed or always merit-based.
Rather, socioeconomic class and other inherited attributes influence how attainable or “pricey” the American Dream is for different individuals and groups. Overall, the quote conveys the idea that privilege and circumstance play a large role in determining how easy or difficult it is for someone to achieve a comfortable lifestyle and social mobility in the United States.