Debut author Rogers delivers an impressive memoir about coping with her son’s paralysis following a devastating car accident—with the help of an extraordinary monkey.
The author’s life was anything but peaceful even before her 22-year-old son Ned’s accident. She was a single mother of five with kids aged between 12 and 25 and her own marketing consulting firm. Rogers always considered herself “something of a tragedy snob”—she lost her father, husband and stepdaughter all well before their time. Her family, “a miracle of modern love and high-flying trapeze act of daily logistics,” endured much suffering but remained upbeat and faithful. These qualities come through in the author’s engaging writing, which resists melodrama in favor of disarming sincerity and humor. Ned’s spinal-cord injury brought challenges previously unimaginable. His survival was a miracle and his recovery even more so, shocking the doctors and causing Ned’s loyal supporters to cheer at every impossible juncture. His demanding, frustrating journey included blinking to communicate, operating a wheelchair by sipping and puffing into a straw and being turned constantly to avoid infection by bed sores. As Ned regained his ability to breathe, speak and move his hands, his family learned of an organization called Helping Hands: Monkey Helpers for the Disabled. Helping Hands places capuchin monkeys with paralyzed individuals to help them with everyday tasks and to provide companionship. Ned and his family were thrilled at the idea but had to wait the requisite year to prove that Ned was sufficiently acclimated to home life to incorporate an animal into his routine. Upon her arrival, Kasey the helper monkey took the house by storm with her cuteness, charm, intellect and diva nature. The practical help and emotional lift she brought to Ned was lifesaving. With her as a sidekick, he was able to pursue his dream of motivational speaking. Rogers does not gloss over the incredible amount of patience and work required to care for and train a capuchin, and the memoir is stronger for it.Inspiring and enjoyable.