I couldn't put this book down. WHERE IS THE MANGO PRINCESS? is Cathy Crimmins's memoir of her husband being hit by a speedboat and his consequent TBI (traumatic brain injury). His rehabilitation is lengthy and difficult, and the man who emerges after the injury is not the man Crimmins originally married. But her personal outlook is long on humor and honest concern for getting it right --- both her story and the specifics of the problem and its treatment. It's a remarkable achievement and one that even the most hesitant reader, the one who doesn't usually like stories about medical trauma and mishap, will find enlightening, uplifting and ultimately moving.
Even if you're not the kind of person who watches TLC's "Trauma" or even the dramatic program "ER," you are probably the kind of person who worries about the people you love, who understands that with a split second your life can change inalterably, who knows that the world is an occasionally crazy and insane place. Crimmins, with her clarity and simplicity of style, talks to her readers as if they are her pals, gossiping on the phone, being let in on all the scary and sometimes hilarious situations that rise out of the trauma. Her husband comes across as a willful man who is determined to get better, and Crimmins finds herself feeling inadequate as a nurturer. In that sense, it's an interesting tale for women to read, as it's always presumed that women, even the most non-maternal ones among us, will snap into nurturing mode when tragedy strikes. But that's not true, and Crimmins's honesty about her inability in that arena gives the book yet another interesting layer to ponder.
WHERE IS THE MANGO PRINCESS? is a tour de force, a book a writer never thought she would have to write but, when she did, she discovered the very best voice she has to offer the reading public. A wonderful read.
Reviewed by Jana Siciliano on September 19, 2000