Humorist Cathy Crimmins has written a deeply personal, wrenching, and often hilarious account of the effects of traumatic brain injury, not only on the victim, in this case her husband, but on the family.
When her husband Alan is injured in a speedboat accident, Cathy Crimmins reluctantly assumes the role of caregiver and learns to cope with the person he has become. No longer the man who loved obscure Japanese cinema and wry humor, Crimmins' husband has emerged from the accident a childlike and unpredictable replica of his former self with a short attention span and a penchant for inane cartoons. Where Is the Mango Princess? is a breathtaking account that explores the very nature of personality-and the complexities of the heart.
"Alan's brain got run over by a speedboat," Cathy Crimmins writes. "That last sentence reads like a bad country-western song lyric, but it's true. It was a silly, horrible, stupid accident." And so begins the harrowing tale of a family vacation gone awry when a speedboat collides with her husband's small craft, changing their lives forever. Crimmins (The Seven Habits of Highly Defective People
and When My Parents Were My Age They Were Old... or Who Are You Calling Middle-Aged?
) is used to writing with wit, self-effacing humor, and a warmth that can bring readers to their knees--or at least to tears of laughter. But in this stunning memoir about her husband's brain injury and the subsequent fallout, Crimmins has outdone herself, bringing all her sharply honed narrative skills into play as she tackles the life-wrenching drama of witnessing her husband's near death and ensuing rebirth as a very different person.
Crimmins takes readers inside the drama with all the right details and interior feelings to keep us fully mesmerized: her 7-year-old daughter's ashen face, her husband's twitching body, the paramedic's alarming question, "Is your husband one of these people that ordinarily has large pupils?" As deftly as she takes readers inside this personal story of not-quite recovery--more like discovery--she is also able to pan back and show readers the comedic silver lining (the self-important doctors, the moments of mishaps, and of course, the whereabouts of the mysterious Mango Princess) that lies within the cloud of her family's tragedy. Anyone who has endured a head trauma or loved someone who has will be engrossed by this wise and knowledgeable storyteller. The rest of us will have a captivating lesson about the rejuvenation of the brain as well as the human heart. --Gail Hudson