Where is the Mango Princess?

Last week, Book Club B discussed Where is the Mango Princess? A Journey Back from Brain Injury by Cathy Crimmins. This is the memoir of a Philadelphia woman whose husband is run over by a speedboat on vacation in Canada. Surviving a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), he slowly regains motor skills and memories—even returning part-time to his career as a trust attorney—but with an altered personality.

Crimmins incorporates medical research, making it a helpful introduction to TBI, but her primary focus is how she and her 7-year-daughter (who witnessed the accident) react to and change because of the accident. She quotes a friend, whose wife is a TBI patient, describing his new life this way: “I feel like I was divorced on the day my wife was injured…and then there was a hastily arranged marriage to a woman I barely know.” She jokes about “the New Al,” but realizes later that she has become “the New Cathy” because of their changed relationship.

Where is the Mango Princess? doesn’t have the literary quality of The Year of Magical Thinking, another memoir of loss written by novelist Joan Didion (see my previous post on this one). Crimmins is a humor writer, so this is more of an Erma Bombeck approach, which doesn’t particularly suit my taste. And the salty language bothered some of the people in our discussion group. But we all agreed that we learned a great deal about the fragility and resilience of the human brain, and are hopefully better prepared to reach out to families of TBI patients.

Those of you who have read this—what else did you take away from Crimmins’ account? How sympathetic of a character and/or storyteller is she?

18. June 2006 by Mindy
Categories: Reviews | 3 comments

Comments (3)

  1. i was wondering where you went off to – glad to see you’re back, my literary princess :o)

  2. sorry the above comment was kind’ve creepy.

  3. I agree that the literary quality was not there, however, I did find the book profitable, particularly as a challenge to push me to look at people with eyes that see them as Jesus sees them.

    It’s too easy to write off the value of a person because they can no longer serve at the previous output capacity. And it’s easy to reduce all measurements of how we produce on the job to a unit measure.

    But the truth is, those people who are dealing with a severe brain injury, or debilitating cancer, or degenerative muscle disease, need to be seen and treated as image bearers. And based on that, they add value to all of our lives.

    The raw language was distracting at times. And it was shocking how little the author seemed to be engaged in and understand the difficulties her daughter was encountering.

    The health insuarance industry was certainly called to task, but many physicians and other medical personnel were commended.

    Overall, a quick read, helpful, and worth the time and money for the book.