"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
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.