Monday, September 12, 2011
Review: Me Again
hardcover, 321 pages
Gale, Cengage Learning
a copy of this book was provided to me by TLC Book Tours
Me Again is a "leave me alone, I'm reading" kind of book. I started reading on Friday during a school day (silent sustained reading makes Fridays so satisfying) and didn't put the book down until I finished on Saturday.
The novel begins with this sentence: "I was born on a Tuesday morning. It was a difficult birth, because I was thirty-four years old." Jonathan Hooper wakes up after six years in a coma, and Me Again is the story of the physical, emotional and spiritual awakening that follows. But don't worry, you won't get any saccharine, uplifting wish-fulfillment story arc here. Me Again is refreshing for its humor and its unpretentious aversion to anything fake. And there is a lot that is fake in Jonathan's life--at least the old Jonathan's life.
Jonathan suffers a stroke and is in a coma for six years. When he wakes from his coma, he remembers....nothing. Not his family, not the physically gorgeous yet conceited girlfriend who visits him--nothing. With his memory bank wiped clean, Jonathan is able to look at his former life with remarkably clear eyes. And he soon figures out that the person he used to be wasn't really very nice.
As Jonathan recovers from six years of atrophy, he also begins to explore what little information he can glean about his life (without telling his family that he has no memory of them). Through Jonathan's eyes we see a jealous brother, parents in a dysfunctional relationship, and a shifty former boss.
Jonathan does have one friend in his new life. In the hospital's long-term recovery unity he meets Rebecca Chase, another young stroke victim who is struggling to regain her physical strength and adjust to her changed personality. Me Again explores the physical and personality changes that the two characters experience, and the struggle to accept the way they are now. Both Rebecca and Jonathan want their family and friends to accept the "new normal" of their lives; the two characters develop a deepening bond that threatens (and it threatened by) Rebecca's marriage to Bob, her college sweetheart.
Me Again has characters you can love, a compelling story line, a few secrets to uncover, and a fresh and humorous take on a serious topic. Readers who like Elizabeth Berg will probably love this book. Me Again isn't exactly "women's fiction," but the focus on human relationships, love over financial success, and the healing power of truth are all here. Me Again is appealing, and written with a directness and lack of pretense that will win readers over. Also worth mentioning is the absolutely scrumptious design of the book. I loved the cover photo (a small buddha figurine in a bowl of cereal). The cover image is perfect for Me Again (read it to find out why). But what I really loved about the book design was the beautiful shiny inside, which has the same image on its glossy cover. This typifies the care and craft that obviously went into the story on the pages of this satisfying and compassionate novel.
Keith Cronin will donate 25% of the money he makes from Me Again to the American Stroke Association.