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Where is the Mango Princess? A Journey Back from Brain Injury Paperback – October 9, 2001

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Editorial Reviews Review

"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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Although it was frightening when Crimmins's husband, Alan, an attorney, suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) while on a family vacation, it was his long-term rehabilitation that proved most daunting, for brain injuries can cause significant personality changes. This chronicle of Al's injury, treatment and rehabilitation shows how perplexing and stressful traumatic brain injury can be for both victim and family. Crimmins (When My Parents Were My Age, They Were Old and Newt Gingrich's Bedtime Stories for Orphans) knows how to tell a story for maximum effect, filling this account with funny and outrageous anecdotes, raw emotion and predictable rage toward HMOs that won't fund optimal treatment. Like many TBI patients, Al became bizarrely uninhibited; Crimmins describes how he swears profusely and masturbates in public, and her worries about suddenly being married to a stranger: "I once had a husband who was doing a dissertation on Samuel Beckett, who had a thing for obscure Japanese cinema.... I can't imagine being married to a man who won't be able to discuss books or go to the theater with me." Despite Alan's extraordinarily good recovery, Crimmins muses, "I miss his dark side.... Now I wince as he chortles over mediocre cartoons... with TBI he has become what he wasn't before, a regular, uncomplicated guy." Though this story is an eye-opener on some levels, it remains essentially shallow. More information on neurological research would have been welcome, and attention to the experience of other TBI families (to which Crimmins devotes only three paragraphs) would have added the perspective that this self-centered account lacks. Agent, Kim Witherspoon.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (October 9, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375704426
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375704420
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (101 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #190,182 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

61 of 61 people found the following review helpful By BeachReader on October 15, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Cathy Crimmins has taught us all a lesson in this book.....that life isn't always as we had thought it would be and that we must be proactive in order to change it.
When her husband, Alan, a successful bank attorney in Philadelphia, suffers a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) in an accident, his life and his family's lives change forever. Crimmins takes us through the extensive rehab process which she handles with both tears and laughter. As a reader, I found myself experiencing feelings of anger, hope, sadness, and joy at the smallest improvement in her husband's condition and at the smallest victory over the system.
I could not believe how much I learned from this book. It should be "must reading" for everyone who works with brain-injured patients and also for all of those insurance company "voices on the phone" who make life and death decisions based on very little information, and with very little empathy. I learned about something called "perseveration" which is when a brain-injured person repeats an action or phrase over and over and over again. I also learned that with brain injuries such as this, inhibitions disappear, which means that socially inappropriate behaviors are often displayed. Crimmins also made the reader understand why these patients and their families become so frustrated. I could fill pages with what I learned.......
I read this book in one day and a friend who was visiting me read it the next. I then passed it on to my daughter who also read it in one day and then recommended it to her neurobiology professor who thought it was outstanding. If I had the power to make this book a bestseller, I would!
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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Anne S. Dalin on September 12, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Having never read a book that talked about a personal experience with Traumatic Brain Injury, I found myself unable to put the book down. My god-daughter recently sustained a head injury from being thrown from an All Terraine Vehicle (ATV) and I found so much of Cathy Crimmins' story right on the mark. This book can be a difficult book to read because of the deeply emotional subject, but is a touching memoir told with a great deal of humor, and most of all... honesty.
Reading this book will touch anyone who has ever known someone who has sustained a TBI. It's also a book that should be shared after reading it. I congratulate the author for sharing her story; one that shares the heartache and explores the mystery of dealing with a loved one who survives a serious head injury. It's a world that I hope my family is spared from ever knowing firsthand.
I guess we never know how we will respond to a life changing event, and Cathy Crimmins shows the human side - the ups and downs with a rare openess. This is not anything like the Harrison Ford movie, Regarding Henry, where he wakes up a sweet guy afer a serious accident. This is what really happens! This is a must read.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Michelle D. Gallagher on September 18, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Cathy Crimmins is an eloquent and amazing person. Her description of life after a loved one's Traumatic Brain Injury is riveting. My father sustained a serious TBI a year after Cathy's husband did - I found that she was able to put into words all the feelings that I've had. This is a must read for anyone who's life has been touched by TBI, as well as a must read for anyone who knows nothing about it. TBI is not the Hollywood scene where the person wakes up and life goes on like normal....Cathy puts a real face on the nightmare of life after TBI.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 27, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Cathy Crimmins says that WHERE IS THE MANGO PRINCESS? is the book she never hoped to write. But we should be glad she did!
It is a book that is sure to bring tears to anyone's eyes, but tears that alternate from tears of sadness to tears of joy to tears of laughter. It is Oliver Sacks meets Robin Cook! However, Robin Cook never took the Insurance Companies & HMO's to task with the biting humor that Cathy Crimmins does in this book. And Oliver Sacks never described the strengths & frailities, the inner workings of the human mind, and the human psyche, in such a personal way and with such candor & grace as does Cathy Crimmins. Cathy can truly say "Been There, Done That."
A short moment in time. A family vacation. Suddenly, a life is in jeopardy, a family is forever changed. Cathy takes us through that harrowing first year AFTER. We see Kelly, 7 years old, suddenly lose her childhood innocence. And we see Alan, a successful 40something lawyer, replace Kelly as Cathy's child.
Head Injury is all around us. It is a great hidden "disease" in which the victims are often unaware of their own changes, and the public is unaware - period. This book not only helps raise awareness of this particular tragedy, but it makes us aware that there are so many people out there who are facing tragedies that we see as impossible to cope with, yet somewhere, find the strength. Cathy found the strength.
As the spouse of a head injury victim, I could not have written this book. Congratualtions to Cathy for writing the book that had to be written. As a member of the human race, I would not want to have missed reading this book. It should be read by anyone who is in, has been in, or contemplates ever being in, a relationship. It defines Love.
As I finsihed this book, I posed this question to myself: Does this book have a happy ending? Well, does it? Decide for yourself.
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