Crooked Smile
Lainie Cohen

ECW Press

We’ve all seen the headlines: “Teenager in critical condition after car accident.” Then, unless there is a death, the story usually cools. Crooked Smile, subtitled “One family’s Journey Toward Healing,” is all about what happens next.

Lainie and Joel Cohen’s son Daniel is injured in an accident involving excessive speed and no seat belt: he has a massive blood clot which has to be removed from his brain. After the surgery comes a coma, and after that comes a painfully slow rehabilitation.

The Cohens have the inestimable advantages of a strong family and social network, education, income, an urban environment, and enough support from friends and relatives to ensure Daniel’s daily physiotherapy. They have enough expertise to question doctors’ decisions, and to find the best rehabilitation possible. It is frightening to know that all their privilege is not enough: Daniel’s younger brother experiments with drugs, his sister has a physical collapse due to stress, and the Cohen marriage takes a beating.

There are lessons to be learned from the Cohens: Lainie finds strength in unexpected places, and she learns to take an active role as a health-care consumer. She is also honest and without self-pity, and we rejoice with the family as Daniel-as-he-is-today takes his part in the circle – life is never as it used to be, but now is accepted with gratitude. mRb