Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Review - The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan

The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan
published 2008
262 pages

Synopsis from publisher:

For Kelly Corrigan, family is everything. At thirty-six, she had a marriage that worked, two funny, active kids, and a weekly newspaper column. But even as a thriving adult, Kelly still saw herself as the daughter of garrulous Irish-American charmer George Corrigan. She was living deep within what she calls the Middle Place—“that sliver of time when parenthood and childhood overlap”—comfortably wedged between her adult duties and her parents’ care. But Kelly is abruptly shoved into coming-of-age when she finds a lump in her breast--and gets the diagnosis no one wants to hear. When George, too, learns that he has late-stage cancer, it is Kelly’s turn to take care of the man who had always taken care of her—and to show us a woman who finally takes the leap and grows up.

Funny, yet heart-wrenching, The Middle Place is about being a parent and a child at the same time. It is about the special double-vision you get when you are standing with one foot in each place. It is about the family you make and the family you came from—and locating, navigating, and finally celebrating the place where they meet. It is about reaching for life with both hands—and finding it.

My thoughts:

The first time I heard of Kelly Corrigan was through this video:

After listening to her beautiful words on the importance of women's friendships, I had high hopes for her memoir about parents and children. I'm happy to say I was not disappointed. This was a beautiful book about the bonds between family, how they are stretched and strengthened by hardship.

Corrigan doesn't try to paint herself as an angel or a martyr - she talks about yelling at her kids, picking fights with her husband, and exasperating her mom with her determination to get the best specialist for her dad. She shows the strengths and weaknesses of all her family members, leaving you wishing you could share a meal, or a weekend, or just a good laugh with this group.

I'm not a parent, but I am blessed with good ones, so for me the highlight of the book was its celebration of just what it means to know that your parents are always there for you, no matter what.

"And that's what this whole thing is about. Calling home. Instinctively. Even when all the paperwork - a marriage license, a notarized deed, two birth certificates, and seven years of tax returns - clearly indicates you're an adult, but all the same, there you are, clutching the phone and thanking God that you're still somebody's daughter."

While this is a memoir about cancer, it is more than that about the love that exists within a family. It made me laugh, and cry, and feel happy to have spent some time with the Corrigans.

Finished: 5/23/09
Source: Franklin Avenue Library
Rated: 8/10

Don't just take my word for it - here's what some other fabulous bloggers had to say:

Bermudaonion's weblog

She Is Too Fond Of Books


Diane said...

I have this one too; can't wait to read it as i've been on a memoir kick.

Literary Feline said...

Thanks for your great review. This really does sound like a memoir worth reading. I remember when my mother first found out about the lump in her breast and then everything that proceeded that. I know she really appreciated how everyone came together for her, friends and family.

bermudaonion said...

I loved this book too. You need to listen to Kelly's interview on Blog Talk Radio.

violetcrush said...

The first time I heard about this author was also through a video, although not this one. This sounds like a sad but enjoyable book.

Teddyree said...

Really enjoyed your review, enough to add this one to my wishlist. - thanks

Dawn - She is Too Fond of Books said...

Wasn't this a great read?! An amazing family with such positive spirit!

Kelly Corrigan and Greenie (her Dad, for those who haven't yet read the book) were signing at BEA last week. I would have loved to have met them ... if only I could clone myself!

Yes, the Book Club Girl interview is a great conversation, and there's another video on YouTube where she tells a funny story about her mom.

Elizabeth said...

Diane - it's beautiful. I bet you'll like it.

Literary Feline - it was such a beautiful celebration of the bonds of family!

bermuda - I think I just need to start listening to Blog Talk Radio in general - when do I have time?? =)

Violet - you know, it really wasn't as sad as I thought it would be.

Teddyree - I hope you enjoy it!

Dawn - I've seen the story about her mom, too - it's a hoot!