Editor's Note: Last year, I read a book called "Hot Cripple." This book was a mix of intensity, humility, hilarious commentary and hopefully will make readers (specifically young readers) pay more attention to the importance of health insurance and the health care system. Considering the constant battles about the Affordable Care Act, health insurance and money management during America's current economic state, this review fits within this health category. By the end of the read, hopefully readers will understand that diet and exercise are important, but being able to be financially stable and knowing your way around the healthcare industry is just as significant.
Hogan is an actress/waitress who has a background in modeling, is 5'10, blue-eyed, blonde and 120 pounds if she's dripping weight. Unfortunately for this New Yorker, being mainstream pretty doesn't do her much good when she heads to work and gets hit by a Mercedes going 40 mph.
Even though she flipped over twice and landed in the back windshield of that car — her grande soy Tazo chai still stuck in the one remaining shard of glass from the window — the people in the car are less than sympathetic.
"Stand up! You're not hurt! I'm a doctor, I know you're not hurt!" screams the passenger before the EMT straps Hogan into a board and neck collar.
Ironically enough, that lack of sympathy followed her from the hospital (where she has no health insurance and is sent home with a neck brace), the emergency room (where she lays fetal waiting for over three hours), the welfare office (where the smart-alec social worker calls her "Paris Hilton"), her best friend Gayle (who stopped speaking to her for some inexplicable reason), her brother (who loses patience with his sister being sick and refuses to drop by and check on her) and a police officer (who makes her walk eight blocks to get a money order for $10 because they don't take anything but checks or money orders for accident reports).
Not everybody is this hard on her though. Hogan's mother is flying back and forth to see her daughter. Mom has encouraged Hogan to call her ex-roommate and modeling friend Mary Jane, who just happens to be very fond of marijuana. (Cue the Rick James' song.) Mary Jane's daughters Peaches and Candy are pretty fond of her, too, and make sure to treat her "like a china doll."
Random strangers are surprisingly nice to her, too. A worker at a braiding/barber shop is nice enough to call her "Gap Girl" when he watches Hogan trudging down the street to the police station. His reason? "You look like a Gap ad."
Normally that'd be considered a compliment, but since Hogan has a closet full of high-end designers, wearing Gap is at the bottom of her list. Things change when she realizes she has to pay for prescriptions, a neurologist, an oncologist, lawyer fees and food. Clothes are sold. Heels are abandoned. And the one-time fashionista finally has to come to grips with America's health care system and welfare system.
Although I could've gone without her repeatedly referring to herself as a welfare queen (it's usually people who aren't on welfare that like to stamp that offensive title on those who are), randomly mentioning people by race and reminding us that she's a "blonde" nonstop, I finally understood why she felt the need to tell readers what everybody looked like, even if they were people she only saw once in the whole book.
Hogan doesn't seem to mean any harm. She's quick with wit and majority of her jokes are hilarious. I enjoyed watching her interact with others who were also struggling with the economy and health care, specifically Darnell, a guy who was shot "working the streets" and is now sitting in the Social Security Disability office. After demanding Hogan's mother's coat, he shows her a trick to help her injured leg. From first glance, Darnell's appearance (hoodie, crossed arms with a "too-cool-for-school" slump, ebony skin, sagging pants), doesn't quite sound like he'd hang out with a lady wearing a Mickey Mouse shirt, a long plaid skirt, tube socks, hiking boots and a rhinestone butterfly barrette in her hair.
At one point, she even decides that God must look like Maya Angelou, who happens to resemble her Medicaid caseworker.
While she's telling jokes or crying her eyes out, the author consistently makes the people in this book human. The people she runs into are of all different races — fitting for a place like New York — but so many seem to be trying to survive the same struggles she does. Gorman shows readers that issues of economy are not necessarily race based but class based.
The trip to India didn't do much for the book besides water down the frustration for those who are still struggling to make ends meet while she's traveling overseas. That entire section could've been stripped. The afterthoughts explained the political and economical arguments she disguised in this clever read, but by the end of the book, readers like me already recognized arguments about the health care system, "Obamacare," car insurance policies and Medicaid just from reading what she went through with no-fault insurance.
This is a smart read. Whether you're into politics or not, "Hot Cripple" may make you reconsider (or confirm) your thoughts on American health insurance laws.
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