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A Memoir of Resilience

Eileen Cronin (Author)


“Extraordinarily courageous; [Cronin] chronicles her journey to fit in and thrive with bravery and wit.”—O, The Oprah Magazine

At the age of three, Eileen Cronin first realized that only she did not have legs. Her boisterous Catholic family accepted her situation as “God’s will,” treating her no differently than her ten siblings, as she “squiddled” through their 1960s Cincinnati home. But starting school, even wearing prosthetics, Cronin had to brave bullying and embarrassing questions. Thanks to her older brother’s coaching, she handled a classmate’s playground taunts with a smack from her lunchbox. As a teen, thrilled when boys asked her out, she was confused about what sexuality meant for her. She felt most comfortable and happiest relaxing and skinny dipping with her girlfriends, imagining herself “an elusive mermaid.” The cause of her disability remained taboo, however, even as she looked toward the future and the possibility of her own family.

In later years, as her mother battled mental illness and denied having taken the drug thalidomide—known to cause birth defects—Cronin felt apart from her family. After the death of a close brother, she turned to alcohol. Eventually, however, she found the strength to set out on her own, volunteering at hospitals and earning a PhD in clinical psychology.

Reflecting with humor and grace on her youth, search for love, and quest for answers, Cronin spins a shimmering story of self-discovery and transformation.

Book Details

  • Paperback
  • February 2015
  • ISBN 978-0-393-35074-6
  • 5.5 × 8.3 in / 352 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide

Endorsements & Reviews

“Utterly believable and totally intriguing.” — Susan K. Perry, Psychology Today

Mermaid is studded with searing moments. . . . But it also contains stories of . . . love and humor. . . . From a childhood enduring painful prosthetics and the misguided pieties of the nuns at school to her adult battles with alcohol and loss, Cronin chronicles her life with courage and grace.” — Kate Tuttle, Boston Globe

“Compelling . . . beautiful prose. . . . [Cronin’s] grit, grace, and optimism are a lesson to anyone confronted by a severe challenge. . . . Filled with tribulations, moving moments and, ultimately, the triumph of her undaunted spirit.” — Megan McDonough, Washington Post

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