Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Laurie Kaye Abraham  

Pen Name: Laurie Kaye Abraham, Laurie Abraham

Genre: N/A

Born: in Cleveland, Ohio

-- Website --
-- Laurie Kay Abraham on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Abraham is a former reporter for the ''Chicago Reporter'' and received her bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism from Northwestern University.

Biographical and Professional Information

Laurie Kay Abraham is a freelance writer and is currently a senior editor at ''ELLE'' magazine. Abraham began her career at ''American Medical News'' in the late 1980s and then moved to ''The Chicago Reporter'' to work as an investigative reporter. She has written for the'' New York Times Magazine'', ''New York'' magazine, ''ELLE'', ''Mother Jones'', ''Health'', ''Salon'', among many other publications and has also been the features editor at ''Mirabella'' magazine. Abraham has been featured on programs including ''The Today Show'', NPR’s ''Fresh Air'', ''Larry King Live'', and ''Anderson Cooper: 360''.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

Mama Might Be Better Off Dead: The Failure of Health Care in Urban America
ISBN: 0226001393

The University of Chicago Press. 1994

Mama Might Be Better Off Dead is an unsettling, profound look at the human face of health care. Both disturbing and illuminating, it immerses readers in the lives of four generations of a poor, African-American family beset with the devastating illnesses that are all too common in America's inner-cities.

The story takes place in North Lawndale, a neighborhood that lies in the shadows of Chicago's Loop. Although surrounded by some of the city's finest medical facilities, North Lawndale is one of the sickest, most medically underserved communities in the country. Headed by Jackie Banes, who oversees the care of a diabetic grandmother, a husband on kidney dialysis, an ailing father, and three children, the Banes family contends with countless medical crises. From visits to emergency rooms and dialysis units, to trials with home care, to struggles for Medicaid eligibility, Abraham chronicles their access (or lack of access) to medical care.

Told sympathetically but without sentimentality, their story reveals an inadequate health care system that is further undermined by the direct and indirect effects of poverty. When people are poor, they become sick easily. When people are sick, their families quickly become poorer.

Embedded in the family narrative is a lucid analysis of the gaps, inconsistencies, and inequalities the poor face when they seek health care. This book reveals what health care policies crafted in Washington, D. C. or state capitals look like when they hit the street. It shows how Medicaid and Medicare work and don't work, the Catch-22s of hospital financing in the inner city, the racial politics of organ transplants, the failure of childhood immunization programs, the vexed issues of individual responsibility and institutional paternalism. One observer puts it this way: "Show me the poor woman who finds a way to get everything she's entitled to in the system, and I'll show you a woman who could run General Motors."

Abraham deftly weaves these themes together to make a persuasive case for health care reform while unflinchingly presenting the complexities that will make true reform as difficult as it is necessary. Mama Might Be Better Off Dead is a book with the power to change the way health care is understood in America. For those seeking to learn what our current system of health care promises and what it delivers, it offers a place for the debate to begin.

The Husbands and Wives Club: A Year in the Life of a Couples Therapy Group
ISBN: 1416585478

Touchstone. 2010


For more than a year, journalist Laurie Abraham sat in with five troubled couples as they underwent the searing process of group marriage therapy. Published as The New York Times Magazine’s cover story "Can This Marriage Be Saved?" the resulting article generated intense reader response and received the Award for Excellence in Journalism from the American Psychoanalytic Association. Though the article allowed Abraham to focus on only one couple, this book, which grew out of it and the reaction it inspired, tells the moving, fascinating story of all five.
The couples: Can Leigh and Aaron find the intimacy their marriage lacks will Bella and Joe resolve the imbalance of power that threatens to topple their marriage are Sue Ellen and Mark as ideal as they seem what happened to Rachael that Michael cannot acknowledge and do Marie and Clem, with the help of therapist Judith Coché, come back from the brink of divorce?
With the dexterity of a novelist, Abraham recounts the travails, triumphs, and reversals that beset the five couples. They work with their therapist—and each other—to find out whether they can rediscover the satisfaction in marriage that they once had. At times wrenching, at times inspiring, the sessions bring out the long-hidden resentments, misunderstandings, unmet desires, and unspoken needs that bedevil any imperiled couple. At the same time, these encounters provide road maps to reconciliation and revival that can be used by anyone in a relationship. Along the way, the author draws on her explorations of literature and Freudian theory, modern science, and today’s cutting-edge research to decode the patterns and habits that suggest whether a troubled marriage will survive or die. Both an important look at the state of marital dysfunction and a reaffirmation of the enduring bonds of love, The Husbands and Wives Club is an extraordinary year in the life of the American marriage.


''Mama Might Be Better Off Dead'' was chosen as one of USA Today's ten best books of the year and a Lingua Franca Breakthrough Book.

Speaking Engagements

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