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on September 8, 2011
Man, this guy can write.

A synopsis doesn't do the book justice. The bare bones can't convey what delights await the reader but here goes: Jonathan Hooper wakes up from a stroke-induced coma of six years. He has no knowledge of who he was and no recognition of family and friends.

His rehab is a struggle but there's more to the goal than walking and talking again. Jonathan is smitten by another young stroke victim Rebecca Chase. Her stroke has left her with no pretense or verbal filters.

Little by little Jonathan discovers that his former self wasn't at all like the man he has become. Rebecca, who has left her former trophy wife ways behind, finds her husband's constant disappointment overbearing. How they put themselves back together and what they discover along the way is a triumph of courage.

If all this sounds like a daytime soap, let me put that thought to rest. There's a big scoop of humor added to the mix. Me Again is a debut novel that doesn't read like a debut novel. It's a well-polished work with three-dimensional characters, a plot that moves along without a stumble and believable dialogue. In a recent interview Keith Cronin said the book took more that five years and three rewrites to complete. All that hard work makes for an enjoyable read.

If there were more stars to award, this book club and movie-worthy book would get them.
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on October 26, 2011
First thoughts after finishing: "What a lovely debut novel. I bought it hook, line, and sinker."

"And Dad?" I reached out and touched his arm, startling him. We stopped, standing among the graves of people unknown to us, looking at each other.
"Even though I don't remember you," I said, frightened about what I was about to say but convinced of it being what I needed most to say, "I love you. Here and now. I love you."
(from Me Again page 242)

That writing absolutely struck a chord with me because I had almost the exact same conversation with my beloved Grandfather when he was in the final stages of Alzeimer's. I was visiting for what would be one of my final visits. I held his hands and looked him in the face and told him how much I loved him and that he was the best grandpa in the whole world. He then looked right at me and said, "Sis, I don't know who you are, but I do know that I love you." Knowing that a loved one's memory is affected regardless of how it happened is never easy to deal with, but I think Keith Cronin took a step in the right direction by taking his reader along for the journey as Jonathan tries to find his way back to life after waking up from a coma. I loved this book and most of all I loved Jonathan. There is nothing contrived about this story and I believe that it may help readers think twice about the difficulties one faces after being stricken down by a stroke. I think one of the important views of the story were from Jonathan's family. It was hard for them to reconcile themselves to the fact that the new Jonathan was NOTHING like the old Jonathan. In a way, it was a bit harder for them to deal with than Jonathan because he didn't remember anything of his life.

Recommend? Absolutely! This is a solid story and one that I was immersed in for a few days. It helps shine a light on the debilitating effects of strokes and how even though someone may look fine on the outside, it doesn't truly represent how far their mental abilities may have been diminished. I cared about Jonathan and those close to him...what more can a reader ask for?
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on October 8, 2011
Irresistible opening lines-- "I was born on a Tuesday morning. It was a difficult birth, because I was thirty-four years old."
Seriously, one of the best openers I've ever read--and from there, you will float and soar on Cronin's narrative.
This heartful story is driven by a powerful trio of engines: humor, wisdom and insight about about who we are, who we were, and what we can become. There's an underlying optimism here that transforms two stroke victims' losses into something uplifting and promising.
This story envelopes you, and will make you laugh out loud repeatedly--a truly rare gift.
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on August 12, 2013
Jonathan wakes from a six-year coma to find that a stroke has left him as helpless as a baby. He has to learn everything from scratch. But learning how to talk and walk again is easier than trying to remember who his family and friends are, or who he used to be. In hospital he meets Rebecca whose stroke has transformed her from a bubbly, life-and-soul-of-the-party wife to an introvert who keeps putting her foot in it. They both need to find a way to live as their new selves.

This book is absolutely brilliant. I love the ways in which the author describes Jonathan's physical, mental, and emotional recovery: his initial confusion and dawning realization of what's happened to him; his early attempts at communication; meeting his family and friends; meeting Rebecca... As I write each of these, I can picture the scenes, and experience again the humor and the melancholy that runs through each of them.

The tentative and tender relationship between Jonathan and Rebecca is described with a perfect blend of wit and pathos. The early scenes between them are some of the best in the book. Jonathan's running commentary in his head about his lack of verbal skills is hilarious, while his vulnerability is truly moving.

In effect this book has four lead characters - the 'new' Jonathan and Rebecca, and their old selves. Living with their changed personalities raises many complex questions for them and for the reader. I do wonder how they would have got on had they met prior to their hospitalization.

There are plenty of surprises for Jonathan and the reader as he learns about his previous life, and even though many of the reveals are signaled ahead of time, they each add another dimension to the story, whether it's a comic moment, an element of intrigue, or a powerful emotional punch. While many scenes made me laugh, I'll admit that this story reduced me to tears more than once.

This story is a triumph, and I enjoyed it from start to finish.
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on October 27, 2012
After a lot of chick-lit/women literature failures, it was a relief to find a smart, sweet, funny story, not cheesy at all. A book where no one is perfect, beautiful and successful, but it is not depressing either. Also this book was the perfect companion to went through hurricane Sandy! very glad I found it.
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on November 9, 2012
Very impressed with this book. Not just anyone one can find the humor and the humanity in a subject as weighty as a stroke in early adulthood but somehow the author does it. I actually chuckled out loud in a couple of places and had a lump in my throat in others. I come from a long line of stroke victims and this book, written from the perspective of someone suffering the affects of aphasia was fascinating and unnerving. Great book, quick read, and after reading probably a hundred books on my kindle, the first I have ever taken the time to write a review for, if that tells you anything.
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on November 11, 2012
(Just a note: It's a rare book that merits five stars IMHO.)

This is a very good book. A very good book. And it is a romance, but not in the way you think of romance books, with the boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back. There's no ripped bodices and no salacious sex scenes. It's a tender love borne of an abiding friendship developed over a long period of time.

Others have done a great job of telling you what this novel is about. This book was surprising in how it was able to treat heavy subjects with the heaviness they deserve without overwhelming the reader, and yet throws in humor that really relieves the heaviness at just the right moments. The character development was very good. I felt like I personally knew all the main characters in this book, that they were real people, not caricatures -- they were all believable.

The writer really does have a great sense of humor and a intriguing writing style. Pick it up. You won't regret it. And you will learn something about yourself in the process of reading it, which is always a great discovery.
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on September 3, 2011
We often forget that strokes don't just happen to older people. Keith Cronin's powerful debut novel explores what happens when a man and a woman in their late twenties both have their lives radically changed by strokes. The story also shows how stroke can affect not just the victims, but also those who are close to them, like spouses, family, friends and even enemies.

Despite how serious all that sounds, 'Me Again' is also very funny. Jonathan's self-deprecating and clever observations are often laugh-out-loud funny, as he faces life with no memory and unable to count past the number three. And while Rebecca's inability to filter her own speech leads to some humorous moments, it also gives us some painfully intimate glimpses at what it's like to spend every day knowing you're not living up to the expectations of others.

This is a satisfying, emotional book that manages to avoid being saccharine, yet still tugs pretty hard at the heartstrings - when it's not busy making you laugh.

This would definitely make a great book club selection. Highly recommended!
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on February 16, 2014
I don't know where Mr Cronin got his deep psychological insight, but for anyone who has had a major life-altering event - be it physical or psychological or both - can benefit from this reading while enjoying the humor as well as the seriousness of it. 12 years after being hit by a drunk driver and having my life broken and forever changed, I'm still struggling with living with who I am now. I don't think that ever completely goes away. I've given up trying to explain to others that even though I look the same on the outside, my body is broken and in constant pain on the inside and that's why I can't do what I "should" be able to do if it wasn't for the accident. The words he uses to describe all this is very affirming and gives me renewed strength to keep going. It's a tender and heart-warming story that will help even those who have never had such problems to "live in the moment."
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on November 11, 2012
Absolutely a must read! The insights into a recovery of two individuals with different kinds of strokes and the trials and tribulations therein, brought to you with remarkable insight into the characters and their feelings as they work to regain control over their lives. I laughed, I cried and most of all, I felt a certain kinship with the two main characters.
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