memoir / public and politics

Cover Me: A Health Insurance Memoir

Cover Melowres

Cover Me: A Health Insurance Memoir. Class in America Series, University of Nebraska Press. 2010

ISBN: 978-0-8032-2623-4
208 pp
Hardcover: $22.95
Kindle (from Amazon): $13

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Finalist for the 2010 Grub Street National Book Prize in Nonfiction

“Wise, irreverent, honest, and utterly compelling. . . . Sonya Huber finds unexpected truth and gentle comedy in every bizarre corner of this insane labyrinth we call our health-care system.”—Dinty W. Moore, author of Between Panic and Desire

“The sheer, jet-propelled energy of this memoir elevates it into a tour de force. I found it by turns hilarious and heartbreaking.”—Sue William Silverman, author of Fearless Confessions: A Writer’s Guide to Memoir

“Timely, passionate, informative, and moving, Sonya Huber’s Cover Me is a scathing memoir of an uninsured young mother’s encounter with health care in America.”—Floyd Skloot, author of In the Shadow of Memory

Press Mentions & Reviews

Thoughtful review by James Nickras in The Ohio Book Review, July 31, 2012: “To me, Cover Me perfectly captures (for some of us) those post-liberal arts degree years where one is trying to find his or her way with different jobs (home for runaway teens, community organizer, journalist, adjunct professor) in different towns (Minneapolis, Boston, Chicago, Columbus) with a series of youthful love interests and motherhood. Each move is a progression to hopefully-something-better to build a future….That is the bare bones of the memoir, dressed in Huber’s anxieties toward maintaining or losing benefits.”

Thank you to Kate Hopper for a beautiful interview and review of Cover Me on her blog Mother Words (Jan. 31, 2011).

Thank you to Sarah Buttenwieser for an excellent review in Brevity Winter 2011 (35)! “Her tenacity, ingenuity, and steady wits awed me. Few people could finesse the system to extract the type of affordable care she obtained. The way she writes about her fighting-for-access drama causes readers to hang on every word.”

“Book Notes” feature on largehearted boy blog, Jan. 14, 2010. David Gutowski: “Sonya Huber’s book Cover Me: A Health Insurance Memoir explores how the lack of affordable medical care affects our lives, and in a broader context, the need for quality and accessible healthcare for all. Huber recounts her own experiences without health insurance with cutting humor and compelling prose in this irreverent yet socially important memoir.”

Jan./Feb. 2011 interview in Against the Current (150): Living and Working Uncovered by Dianne Feeley. Number 22 in Tower Books “Top 100 in Hardback Books” for 100 bestsellers, top-selling authors, and hot new releases, Nov. 21, 2010

Review by Jennifer Niesslein in Brain, Child, Nov./Dec. 2010: “In this memoir—possibly the only book about yearning and the body that doesn’t involve much sex—Huber chronicles her two decades with only intermittent healthcare insurance. Although she’s well-educated, with a background in community organizing and journalism, she belongs to that certain class of Americans: those who, as she once did, have to make decisions like the one to have an otherwise salvageable tooth pulled because it’s the far cheaper option. (‘The middle-class, orthodontized little girl inside me lodged a righteous protest… What about the headgear, the careful brushings, the hooks and rubber bands?’ she writes.) In often lyrical prose, Huber shows how this missing chunk of security informs decisions ranging from the small (stealing a prescription allergy pill from a friend) to the large (can she afford to have a baby?). ‘Worry is a knife,’ Huber writes. ‘You watch the blade. Tensing against that knife-edge takes the attention and focus that might have gone to your family.’”

Interview with Doug Dangler of CSTW at Ohio State University for “Writers Talk,” broadcast on WCBE and WOSU in Columbus, OH, on Nov. 8, 2010.

Review by Lisa Romero in ForeWard Reviews, Nov./Dec. 2010: “Huber’s tale resonates. Who hasn’t encountered obfuscating obstructions in even the best health plan, to say nothing of the millions of un- and underinsured who will read with head nodding (and maybe fist pounding). Amid her many joyless ironies—like working without benefits for a coalition advocating universal healthcare—Huber injects humor and wit, tinged with a humanity clearly honed by experience at every rung of the slippery healthcare ladder. The rest of the story—about love, friendships, motherhood and career—keeps the reader rooting for Huber, hoping she’ll find not just healthcare but a happier, healthier life.”

Review by T. Tamara Weinstein in Elevate Difference (formerly Feminist Review), 9/15/10: “Cover Me is a moving portrait of how access to healthcare determines who is a “have” and who a “have not” and in Huber’s hands, the issues surrounding healthcare reform become clear and relatable. Improbably, given the toll the struggles exact, the author is also very funny, telling her stressful tale with an irrepressible sense of humor.”

Review and author interview by Joan Hanna in Author Exposure, 10/8/10: “Cover Me makes us all a little more willing to share our stories and give a voice to our frustrations. This book isn’t a radical call for change, it doesn’t offer solutions; rather, it begins a much-needed dialogue. Political party battle lines and “what ifs” about medical care dissolve into the idea that medical care and our health are very basic needs that every United States citizen should be able to rely on without stress, frustration, or embarrassment. This book illustrates, in a way that mere political rhetoric cannot, how the lack of accessible, affordable medical care negatively affects everyone on a personal, emotional and economic scale.”

The 17 Most Innovative University Presses and the Books You Will Want From Them,” Anis Shivani, The Huffington Post, 8/21/10

Healthcare in America,” NewPages blog 10/13/10

Growing up in middle-class middle America, Sonya Huber viewed health care as did most of her peers: as an inconvenience or not at all. There were braces and cavities, medications and stitches, the family doctor and the local dentist. Finding herself without health insurance after college graduation, she didn’t worry. It was a temporary problem. Thirteen years and twenty-three jobs later, her view of the matter was quite different. Huber’s irreverent and affecting memoir of navigating the nation’s health-care system brings an awful and necessary dose of reality to the political debates and propaganda surrounding health-care reform. “I look like any other upwardly mobile hipster,” Huber says. “I carry a messenger bag, a few master’s degrees, and a toddler raised on organic milk.” What’s not evident, however, is that she is a veteran of Medicaid and WIC, the federal government’s supplemental nutrition program for women, infants, and children. In Cover Me, Huber tells a story that is at once all too familiar and rarely told: of being pushed to the edge by worry; of the adamant belief that better care was out there; of taking one mind-numbing job after another in pursuit of health insurance, only to find herself scrounging through the trash heap of our nation’s health-care system for tips and tricks that might mean the difference between life and death.

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