If you have been reading my book reviews for a while, you'll know that I often criticize the bad quality of some of the free ebooks I come across. Of course, it is always up to me to finish them or not, and you could argue that it serves me right for being so stingy and focusing on free reading material instead of spending money on proper books. You do have a point there, you know.
On the other hand, more than once I have come across really good books by skilled writers, taking advantage of them offering their works for free for a limited period of time.
"Me Again" by Keith Cronin is definitely one of those gems.
In spite of its serious topic, I thoroughly enjoyed the book and felt with the characters - nearly all of them, really.
To summarize, the novel is about a young man who suffers a stroke, falls into a coma and - against all odds - wakes up 6 years later. He has to re-learn even the most basic human skills, and at the same time come to terms with near total memory loss. His family, friends and colleagues have all moved on, as nobody expected him to wake up again, and they all have to cope with the new, changed man.
As Jonathan regains his linguistic and physical abilities, he begins to understand that the man he used to be was not a very nice person. But was he responsible for a crime? And what is the big secret everyone seems to be trying to hide from him, something that happened in his childhood?
How is his friendship with a fellow stroke victim, a young woman, going to develop once she gets out of hospital and returns to her husband?
Jonathan's struggle to regain his body and mind - his life, really - is described very well and, in my eyes, realistically. I have limited personal experience with strokes in my family and the circle of my parents' friends, but it was mostly people much older than the characters in this story. The little I do know about strokes and how hard stroke victims (and their loved ones) are affected made me at first believe the story was autobiographical.
It isn't, but I am sure the author did his research very, very thoroughly. He has his own website here - and I am impressed by the fact that 25 % of the book's proceeds go to the American Stroke Association.
The writing is really good, and the editor(s) and/or proofreader(s) did a good job, too. The characters and what they go through in the course of the story is plausible, and often touching without being cheesy.
If you can get hold of this book, I highly recommend it. It's not just about stroke victims getting their lives back. It's just as much about what a person can (or should) realistically expect from life, who we want to be, no less.
Should I find other books by Cronin, I want to read them.