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?