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Other titles in the American Lives series:
Opa Nobody (American Lives)by Sonya Huber
Synopses & Reviews
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 didnt worry. It was a temporary problem. Thirteen years and twenty-three jobs later, her view of the matter was quite different. Hubers irreverent and affecting memoir of navigating the nations 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 masters degrees, and a toddler raised on organic milk.” Whats not evident, however, is that she is a veteran of Medicaid and WIC, the federal governments 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 nations health-care system for tips and tricks that might mean the difference between life and death.
It had come to this: breast-feeding her screaming three-month-old while sitting on the cigarette-scarred floor of a union hall, lying to her husband so she could attend yet another activist meeting, and otherwise actively self-destructing. Then Sonya Huber turned to her long-dead grandfather, the family “nobody,” for help.
Hubers search for meaning and resonance in the life of her grandfather Heina Buschman was unusual insofar as she knew him only through dismissive family stories. He let his wife die of neglect . . . he used his infant son as a decoy when transporting anti-Nazi literature in a baby carriage . . . and so the stories went. What she actually discovered was that, like his granddaughter, Heina Buschman was a beleaguered but committed activist whose story echoed her own.
Through her research, Huber not only conjured her grandfathers voice in answer to many of the questions that troubled her but also found in his story a source of personal sustenance. Based on extensive research and documentation, this story of Heina Buschman offers a rare look into the heart of the “average” socialist trying to survive the Nazis and rebuild a broken world. Alternating with his voice is Hubers own, providing a rich and moving counterpoint that makes this deeply personal exploration of family, politics, and individual responsibility a story for all of us and for all time.
About the Author
Sonya Huber is an assistant professor of English at Fairfield University. She is the author of Cover Me (Nebraska, 2010) as well as the textbook The Backwards Research Guide for Writers, and many essays and articles.
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