“At some point we’ve got to stop trying to restore our lives, and start actually living them.” – Jonathan Hooper
When thirty four year old Jonathan Hooper wakes up after six years in a coma following a stroke the world is a blank slate to him. He doesn’t remember who he is or how he ended up in the hospital, he can’t talk, his muscles have atrophied, and he has no concept of numbers or time.
Not having expected him to ever recover, his family and girlfriend have moved on with their lives, a situation which may bother Jonathan more if he actually remembered any of them. The fact is, however, there’s very little Jonathan does remember. And so begins the arduous task of relearning how to live.
During the course of physical therapy Jonathan meets Rebecca Chase, who’s also in the process of recovering from a stroke suffered at an unusually young age. Unlike Jonathan, Rebecca didn’t lose her memory after her stroke. Not her memory of people and events anyway, she just doesn’t remember why she ever found any of it appealing…including her husband.
Together the two of them help each other rediscover who they were, and who they want to be.
Okay, I know. On the surface it sounds like Lifetime Movie of the Week material, but there’s more to it than that.
To begin with, author Keith Cronin smoothly infuses Me Again with a very healthy sense of humor. Jonathan’s rediscoveries of certain things provide opportunity for humor in and of themselves (check out the book trailer below), but it’s the way he accepts the challenges in his new life with such matter-of-factness and sense of self-deprecating humor which gives him an utterly charming voice as the story’s narrator:
I was at the hospital first thing in the morning, wearing what I considered to be my nicest jeans and a black golf shirt adorned with either an alligator or a crocodile – the distinction between those reptiles had not been made clear to me when I was relearning animal names back in speech therapy. I had it on the highest authority that this clothing combination looked particularly good on me. Okay, the highest authority in this instance was my mother, but I had limited resources in this area.
It’s not all shrugged off with a laugh, however. As Jonathan rediscovers his past he realizes he wasn’t exactly a straight-shooter. In fact, he becomes pretty sure he was involved in some kind of embezzlement from the accounting firm he used to work for. Rebecca is also faced with some difficult realizations post-stroke. From her fellow church goers to her friends to her husband, everyone keeps waiting for her to “get better” and be the person she used to be. But she and Jonathan both know they don’t ever again want to be the people they once were, and come to understand that moving forward can only happen after breaking free from the past, even if that means leaving certain things – and people – behind.
Me Again is not the type of book I typically read, but I’m glad I took a chance on it. Cronin has a wonderfully down-to-earth, engaging style of writing which makes reading about a potentially touchy topic very comfortable. He accomplishes this in large part by not sugar-coating or romanticizing what Jonathan and Rebecca are going through, but rather by allowing the reader to experience the recovery process alongside his characters, warts and all, without fear people will be put off. It’s a level of self-assured writing one would expect to find from an author with multiple works under his belt, making it all the more impressive that Me Again is a debut offering. I certainly expect to be seeing Keith Cronin’s work again.
Me Again is available from Five Star (ISBN: 978-1432825034).
– Me Again by Keith Cronin –
Be sure to check out all of Keith Cronin’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS