Accidents of Marriage by Randy Susan Meyers

Accidents of Marriage by Randy Susan Meyers was one of those books that I simply could not put down. I was drawn into the story from the beginning and found myself emotionally tied up in the struggles of each character. The story starts out describing a somewhat dysfunctional marriage, but soon turns into a very revealing and emotional tale of how a family survives a major crisis. The author skillfully tells the story from three different viewpoints through alternating chapters and blends them beautifully showing the depths of this family's love, hope, and despair.

Ben Illica is a successful lawyer in the Boston office of the Massachusetts Public Defender Division. The other attorneys defer to him on everything from when and where to have a drink after work to when to go home to their families. As a result, he feels justified in his high expectations of his wife, Maddy. He demands no less than perfection in all things, whether it be how she parents their three children, or the way she parks the car in the driveway. Maddy is a social worker and used to dealing with behavior issues so most days she walks on eggshells trying not to antagonize her husband through placating, pacifying, cajoling - even self-medicating - using whatever means necessary to keep the peace. They have loved each other since the day they met and she tries harder every day to be a more perfect wife and mother, certain if she's good enough Ben's behavior will change. Ben is aware of his anger issues and tries to utilize techniques that Maddy has recently given him to control it. He is selfish and very good at getting what he wants, practical or not. For example, when promoted to senior attorney two years ago, he rewarded himself with a totally inappropriate 2010 Camaro SS V8 sports car and managed to convince Maddy he deserved it. It was that car that would eventually change their lives forever. Road rage and arguing with his wife, combined with a rainy day and slick roads, leads to disaster when Ben tries to outrun a tailgating SUV and crashes the car, sending Maddy through the windshield. Maddy is seriously injured and is in a coma for weeks. The book reveals the struggles of Maddy trying to get her life back after the coma and returning home. Their three children, Emma, Caleb, and Gracie, are confused and don't know how to react to this mother who can't speak or think properly. Maddy's parents are smothering her, her father blames Ben for everything, and her sister just seems upset that Maddy is getting all the attention. Emma, their fourteen-year-old daughter, is at a pivotal age when the accident shatters her life, leaving Emma all too often alone in her thoughts. She must take on so much more responsibility, and is angry that her parents seem to treat her as nothing more than a maid and babysitter for her seven and nine-year-old siblings. She is really struggling with their new life, and her part of the story was the most heartbreaking to me.

Accidents of Marriage by Randy Susan Meyers is an excellent book, and having dealt with brain injury in my own family, I could related to the stages of recovery, from the brain injury and coma, to the rehab and beyond. The technical medical information was well written in a simple way that helped me understand Maddy's struggle with her "new" brain. Brain injuries are not only difficult for the injured but also those who have to watch their struggles. I think this title would be a great book club choice.


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