I had a feeling that the whole math thing wasn’t coming back to me. Ever. It was strange how I could sense that, but it was like I was walking down a long narrow hallway, lined on both sides with a seeming endless series of doors. Some of them were wide open – those were the memories I hadn’t lost. Some doors were slightly ajar – things that had escaped my mind, but easy enough to retrieve by opening the door and walking in. Then there were some closed doors. The parts of my mind that lurked behind them were much harder to access. In home cases I felt I was making some headway. But some of those doors were locked, and I didn’t always have a key. That’s how it felt with numbers. I could just tell that door was never going to open.
Jonathan Hooper was complaining of headache one night when he was in his late twenties, only to suffer a stroke and end up in a coma. After six long years Jon wakes up, dubbed a medical miracle, and has almost no memory of people or places from before his stroke. He also realizes pretty quickly that he has no aptitude for math, even though he used to make his living as an accountant before the stroke. He meets his parents, brother Teddy, ex-girlfriend Victoria and Brandon, an ex-colleague at his old accounting firm, but none of these people trigger his memory. Instead, he is left to try and figure out the man he used to be, while his family and friends are trying to figure out where the old Jon went. Jon starts to form a picture of his old life, and in doing so realizes that maybe he wasn’t such a great guy in the past.
During grueling physical therapy sessions where Jon is trying to learn how to function again (including walking) he meets Rebecca, another stroke victim. Rebecca wasn’t in a coma and doesn’t have the memory loss that Jon suffers, but instead has developed an entire new personality and blurts out whatever is on her mind. Her husband, Big Bob, is trying to find the “old, bubbly Becky” and Rebecca and Jon form a relationship where they commiserate on the state of their lives after stroke.
Me Again by Keith Cronin wasn’t so much a story about a person who had a stroke, but of a reawakening of one man and his search for his true self. The author writes with wry humor and in doing so makes Jonathan’s character one in which you care about. The story of Jonathan’s struggle to find out who he used to be and who he wants to be is beautifully told. Having said that, the author uses plenty of humor to lighten what is obviously a heavy subject matter and does so successfully. I found myself many times laughing (as well as crying) along with the characters. Then, three-quarters of the way through Me Again the author hits you with an emotional whammy that I wasn’t at all expecting, but was just so perfect to the story.
One of the most touching parts of the book is the unfolding story of Jon’s relationship with his father, a man he doesn’t even remember. It’s easy enough for Jon to begin to like his mother, as she is talkative, encouraging and nice. Unlike his mother, Jon’s dad is a quiet, reserved man who at first keeps his distance from Jon. As the story unfolds and emotions run high, it is this relationship that becomes stronger and ultimately is a turning point for Jon.
I also enjoyed Rebecca’s story and as with Jon wanted only the best for her. She has a hard time after her stroke, dealing with a husband who cannot seem to accept the “new” Rebecca and her own struggle to come to terms with her own new body and personality. The one place Rebecca finds strength is in her growing friendship with Jon.
Me Again was a funny, sad, sweet, poignant and heartfelt novel that I can’t recommend highly enough. It would make an excellent book club pick, as there are various themes that can be discussed, most notebly family relationships and what it would feel like to lose your memory. If you need more convincing, check out the book trailer here.
On another note, the author is going to donate 25% of his profits from Me Again to the American Stroke Association!
The publisher has offered to send a copy of Me Again to one lucky winner (US or Canadian residents only)! All you need to do is leave a comment on this post (with a valid e-mail address) by 12 noon on Wednesday, September 21st and I will randomly pick one winner. For an additional chance, tweet this giveaway:
(Stop by @SWrittenWord 4 a chance to win Me Again by @keithcronin http://tinyurl.com/3hah75g #giveaway).
I’m not the only person who read and reviews Me Again. Check out what these other blogs had to say about the book:
Monday, September 12th: girlichef
Tuesday, September 13th: Bibliophiliac
Monday, September 19th: Lit and Life
Wednesday, September 21st: Book Club Classics!
Thursday, September 22nd: Unabridged Chick
Monday, September 26th: Sarah Reads Too Much
Wednesday, September 28th: Jenn’s Bookshelf
Thursday, September 29th: Girls Gone Reading
Monday, October 3rd: Life in the Thumb
Wednesday, October 5th: Coffee and a Book Chick
Thursday, October 6th: Well Read Wife
Monday, October 10th: Estella’s Revenge
Tuesday, October 11th: Caribousmom
Thursday, October 13th: Book Reviews by Elizabeth A. White
Monday, October 17th: A Cozy Reader’s Corner
Tuesday, October 18th: Rundpinne