Where Is the Mango Princess?

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9780375404917: Where Is the Mango Princess?

This is a book that Cathy Crimmins never hoped to write: the story of how a tragic accident nearly destroyed her family; of how in a split second their lives were changed forever.

In 1996, Cathy Crimmins, her husband, Alan, and their daughter, Kelly, were on an idyllic lakeside holiday when a boating accident left Alan in a deep coma, with severe damage to the frontal lobes of his brain, the area that controls speech, memory, movement, and personality. Where Is the Mango Princess? is the story of what happened to Cathy and her family after Alan woke up.

From the frustrations of dealing with doctors ("The first doctor, whom we call Dr. Asshole, swooped down from the great Neurosurgery in the Sky to tell me he has nothing to tell me") and insurance plans ("You know what our HMO's brain surgery plan is? They give your wife a Black & Decker drill and an instruction booklet") to the enigmas of personality, mortality, and modern science, Where Is the Mango Princess? is a chronicle of an unforgettable transformation.

Crimmins's story is full of unexpected and hard-won wisdom: a reminder of the precariousness of health, of fortune, of life itself; an indictment of HMOs and the bureaucrats bred by them; a lesson in how resilient love is, and how wide its compass. Most of all, though, it is Cathy's ability to confront absurdity head-on and not be undone by it that awes and inspires us, in what may be the most miraculous, the most healing, the most uniquely human trait of all--the gift of wit, and how it held her together in the face of the worst life has to offer.

Writing with grace, candor, and remarkable clarity, Cathy Crimmins charts her husband's painful and often astonishing journey through the world of the brain-injured and takes readers on a voyage--life-affirming in even its darkest moments--through neurology, identity, and the mysteries of the human brain.

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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

From the Back Cover:


"[S]imply amazing. [An] astonishing alchemical story of tragedy and recovery."
--Anne Lamott, author of Traveling Mercies

"A portrait of family tragedy all the more poignant for mixing humor with blazing honesty."
--Elle

"Transcends the subject of illness to become an inspiring meditation on the enduring nature of love."
--Us Weekly

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