Me Again is the story of Jonathan, a man who suffers a stroke in his late twenties and spends the next six years of his life in a coma. When he wakes, his family and loved ones have essentially moved on with their lives. He finds himself in an odd between-place figuring out who he was and who he wants to become. Meanwhile, he meets another young stroke victim in his physical therapy facility. Her name is Rebecca, and she's learning herself over again as well. The more she knows about her former life, the less she likes who she once was. Together, they have to figure out how to live again and what those lives will look like.
I had my doubts when I started reading Me Again. Books about stroke victims usually don't jump up and slap me the way a good Gothic novel might or a Postmodern lit fiction novel. However, given Cronin's interesting background as a speechwriter and drummer (!!!) and the fact that 25% of the profits from this book are donated to the American Stroke Association, I figured it was worth a whirl.
In the early pages of the novel, my doubts persisted. It's an odd thing to read about a man who's had a stroke describe what it was like to come out of a coma in a lucid way. Sure, there's that whole "look back and write" thing, but I felt Cronin, as a writer, was also navigating some rocky between-place in fiction. How lucid should the main character be? How much self-reflection and self-awareness should be present? In short, I just had a hard time believing it in the first stretch of the book.
What really won me over about Me Again, was ultimately the humor. There is a great deal of self-deprecation on Jonathan's part as he's learning the world and his family and friends all over again--not to mention that whole walking and talking thing. His interactions with Rebecca are also quite humorous at times. The effects of the stroke are different on each individual; for Jonathan that means trouble with numbers when he used to be an accountant. Rebecca, on the other hand, speaks in monotone and has a hard time filtering what she says.
In one of my favorite passages, Rebecca asks Jonathan why a stroke is called a stroke…
I had wondered about that myself. Perhaps to find a more gentle way to talk about it in polite company? After all, brain attack does sound rather harsh in comparison, and cerebrovascular accident is such a mouthful. And it’s certainly not because it’s considered a stroke of luck, unless you’re counting bad luck. Bottom line: a stroke isn’t gentle, it’s not lucky, and it’s not something you expect to experience in your twenties. (78)Despite my original doubts, I enjoyed reading about Jonathan's plight to get his life back. It was fun and funny, sweet, and original--certainly a book I would recommend.
Thanks to TLC Book Tours for inviting me to take part in this tour!
A little about Keith Cronin:
Author of the novel ME AGAIN, Keith Cronin is a corporate speechwriter and professional rock drummer who has performed and recorded with artists including Bruce Springsteen, Clarence Clemons, and Pat Travers. He is also becoming informally known as "the title guy," having provided the title for Sara Gruen's blockbuster Water for Elephants, as well as Susan Henderson's HarperCollins debut Up from the Blue. Keith's fiction has appeared in Carve Magazine, Amarillo Bay, The Scruffy Dog Review, Zinos, and a University of Phoenix management course. A native of South Florida, Keith spends his free time serenading local ducks and squirrels with his ukulele.
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