201 of 218 people found the following review helpful
on April 22, 2009
I have struggled with the idea of whether to review this book or not because this book is a memoir about someone's actual life. But I have been mulling this book over for a few weeks since I read it, and frankly, I am mystified as to how it has garnered so many 5 star reviews.
I absolutely loved the first half of the book. I truly did. It was a real, moving, lovely tribute to her dad, known as "Greenie". The anecdotes about him and her early growing up years were so funny. Her description of her family members was so detailed and she gave so many humorous accounts of them, I felt as if I knew them. I also thought how much I would love to have Kelly as a friend. She sounded funny, spunky, and real. If she had stopped the book right there, just as a wonderful reminiscence of her life growing up with her family, I would not be writing what I am about to write.
But just past the second half of the book, the writer's tone and the content becomes whiny, self indulgent, leaving the author sounding like a spoiled child who needs to grow up. She recounts several seemingly unrelated episodes in which she is either bemoaning someone's insensitivity to her needs or is patting herself on the back for how strong she is when she needs to be. Her example of her strength? When she was in the delivery room, she kept screaming "I can't do it!" when it was time to push. But in the end, she stepps up to the plate and pushed, giving birth to her child! What else was she going to do, NOT have the baby?! It is the self-congratulatory way she perceives herself in this instance that is irritating.
The other episodes in which she is complaining about someone's insensitivity reads like a personal diary entry - one we all may make now and then when feeling particularly sorry for ourselves, but not a diary entry we ever expect anyone else to read. She complains that she can't have any more children (she already has two). Then there is the incident at the dinner party with friends where two male friends are talking about how far they have come in getting themselves healthy and in shape. The author then throws a wet blanket on the conversation with them with a "what about poor old me" monologue about how broken she feels since her cancer, and how her body has failed her. Then there is the time she runs into an old acquaintance on the street who hasn't seen her since her cancer and makes a series of very benign remarks about one thing or the other that Kelly finds insensitive, and then states how this "friend" will blanch later when she learns Kelly has cancer and remembers what she said to Kelly. She complains about her husband and his closeness to his family (how ironic is that?), complaining about how he calls them on the weekend when she feels he should be devoting his time exclusively to her and their two children. The poor guy sounded so hen pecked based on her description of the conversation she had with him, I felt sorry for him. And he ends up agreeing, not unagreeably, to no longer phone his parents on the weekend when she is around, but when he is driving home from work!
The only real conclusions I felt the author reached at the end of the book were: (a) until she experiences the death of a parent, she doesn't feel she will really be an "adult", and (b) no one will ever admire, cherish, and idolize her like her father does. The best piece of advice in the entire book comes from her mom. The advice she gives, just prior to Kelly becoming engaged, is for Kelly to not expect too much from people in life because if you don't expect a whole lot, you will never be too disappointed. Sadly, I think Kelly might come across as a happier person had she considered this advice. She seems to expect a lot from everyone throughout the book.
I think the author is a talented writer, and, again, I thoroughly enjoyed the first half of the book. And I think with a bit more editing, or perhaps as a series of essays, this book could have been a better read. But not as a full length book with no conclusions or resolutions of much depth.
For a really touching memoir about parenthood and dealing with aging parents (with a twist) that was written with depth and introspection, I highly recommend "Accidentally on Purpose" by Mary Pols.
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
After reading "The Middle Place", I too was stuck in the middle. My heart goes out to anyone diagnosed with cancer. I expected a story of courage and hope; though there was some offered (hence two stars). My primary feeling was one of dismay, sure I too was impressed by her honesty; however, it is soon overshadowed by her selfishness, she is so brazen, she fails to realize she should be embarrassed. This accompanied by "it's just not fair" and other whining was less than appealing. Of course, if the book was more aptly titled, "IT REALLY is All about ME!" or "Kelly Does Cancer" copies wouldn't have flown off the shelves.
With over 200 reviews, I'll go light on the synopsis. As others point out, the first half is devoted to Ms. Corrigan's childhood with great focus on her charismatic, popular father. It then segue ways into recounting her adult life as she faces breast cancer, her concern at leaving behind two young girls, and the added burden of dealing with her father's diagnosis of cancer and treatment. There is no question that this would be is overwhelming.
I was intrigued by the story having lost three dear friends to cancer. Two died in their early 30's leaving behind very young children. Shortly following the loss of my 32 yr. old neighbor, I watched the struggle and eventual loss a year later, of my woman I befriend, whom I nursed and stepped into the role of: preparing meals; laundry; cleaning; running errands; taking to doctor appointments; middle of the night calls; financial support; taking her children on excursions and even started a Christmas fund for her four (4) young children. She died a long, agonizing death at only 34 weighing 67 pounds having lost more than 150 pounds (this is what happens when you have no health insurance). I never once heard her complain even at the very worst. My third friend to die, battled cancer three times over a ten year period! Her body was riddled with of tumors throughout her body leaving her paralyzed and eventually unable to breathe (they too had no insurance and sold everything even their home, only to move to the worst area of town so they could attempt to pay medical bills). Yet, never once did she ever complain! In fact, she often thanked me for being there for her (which of course was heart breaking); she was one of the kindest person's I've ever had the pleasure to know. All handled their diagnosis quite differently than Ms. Corrigan. To be honest, none had the support system that Kelly did nor did they demand such attention and coddling. Yes, I realize my comparisons sound ugly, do I get points for being honest like others give Kelly? I am not saying anyone doesn't have the right to be frustrated and fearful but she demonstrates no compassion for others but her father.
I was appalled at her rudeness to certain fellow sufferers saying they were too negative or scary (my thought -they probably appreciated not needing to interact with her, an immature, whiner). I think her husband should be canonized by the Catholic Church for his tolerance. There is a scene when they are out to dinner with friends and she shouts down her friends for talking about their workout routine because she has cancer and can't take part. Later, she wonders aloud to her husband if her behavior was inappropriate to which he states that her friends need a taste of reality. So, everyone must stop enjoying life or talking only about her during her illness? I'm puzzled, why people walk on eggs for her? More importantly, why do people hang around someone so self-centered?
Should society admire such behavior? This is simply a reflection of American society today; we've become a nation of self-centered and demanding jerks. We've earned our reputation of being rude, demanding and arrogant. Frankly, I'd be embarrassed and ashamed to act out in such fashion.
Please consider that beyond the death's of my friends, I too face multiple, serious health issues, some of which I can't afford to treat; I have had 7 surgeries and I'm facing 4 more (most doctors refuse to operate due to heart and other health challenges; furthermore, I have had a brain tumor for 10 years). I've only told two friends that I even have these health issues. I don't need to use my health challenges to manipulate others for attention or sympathy. Everyone faces challenges, some have much bigger ones than others. The reality is few people want to be around you, if you are sick (subconsciously, I think they believe they will be stricken). In third world nations, this is daily life among the poor. I challenge you to query people with long-term health problems; most will say good friends become scarce, particularly during a crisis. This isn't all that usual. All three of my friends, I have mentioned earlier, spent their last days very lonely having gotten little or no support even from their church body (the last one was a Pastor's wife!).
If Ms. Corrigan didn't have a great sense of humor and a way to spin her misbehavior or already been published author; it is doubtful this would have published let alone made it to the best seller list. There was no mention of any personal epiphany's or promises to live life differently; nor was there mention of how Kelly's views or behavior improved. To my knowledge, she isn't concerned about others who face this terrible scourge. As she has gained notoriety, it is doubtful she has donated even a portion of her book proceeds to a worthy cause. What about using her spotlight to focus on being a spokesperson? How about starting an outreach programs to people to treatment? Or, starting a charity offering respite to caregivers, financial grants to those uninsured; but that would be totally out of character for her. When I read a biography, I want to conclude that my time was well invested by learning insights to improve personally; all I learned here is that narcissists never change.
41 of 48 people found the following review helpful
on February 23, 2010
As so many have written, the author is a whiny self-indulgent adult who needs to grow up. The world appears to revolve around her and she appears to be the only one who knows what should take place, who to contact etc and how people should act or believe. I am just grateful my 30 some children don't feel the need to come in my house and rearrange things and replace valued items as she did with her parents home without their knowledge. I was sickened by her take-over of her father when he was ill. She had no compunction about asking her mother for a loan for their house while admitting that she was Daddy's girl and everything was about Daddy or Greenie as he was called and not her mom. To me the real hero of the book is her husband who tolerates this childish, child-like immature behavior and still appears to love her. I just wanted to shake her and say grow-up. I don't understand all the five star reviews for this book and all the hype surrounding it. I finished it just to see what happened not because I was enjoying the book. I just kept shaking my head unreal the more I read of her personality.
44 of 53 people found the following review helpful
on May 27, 2009
My book club read this memoir and all nine of us disliked it. Not one of us thought this was the inspiring memoir of a breast cancer survivor - which is what we expected. If you like reading light, fluffy stuff about people you don't know, then you may enjoy this book. There are some funny stories (when she went to the prom as a freshman, for example), but to read this book thinking you'll hear about a survivor's journey is a mistake. I think she used her breast cancer as an excuse to write a memoir. I found her to be incredibly selfish. For example, she criticizes her mother throughout simply because she was (had to be) the disciplinarian in the family - she even recognizes her unfair treatment but chalks it up to "that's just a mother's burden". What??? Everything had to be about Kelly - especially her father's cancer (she was unbelievably bossy - to the point of bombarding her father's doctor with emails, the poor guy!!! Bless him for his patience with her). Add her whining tone to her selfishness and what a recipe for bad reading. ("It's just so unfair that I can't have more children because it would put my health at risk" - ever consider helping a child in need and adopt? And, "Oh my God, do you really mean I can't drink alcohol anymore? I don't think I can handle that - I, like, live to drink, even if it means temporarily losing my daughter.") I was also very offended by her statement that women are just play-acting at life and marriage until they have children, which, according to the author, is when "real life" commences. Sorry, Ms. Corrigan, but I've chosen not to have children and I think my life and marriage are plenty real. It amazes me that someone can write such fluff and make, presumably, tons of money off of it. Hmmm... I gotta go - need to write my own memoir.
67 of 84 people found the following review helpful
on February 17, 2008
This memoir is filled with love, humility, honesty, compassion and a great sense of humor. Well-written and highly readable, the structure pulls you from cover to cover so quickly, it's readable in one sitting. My one sitting happened to be on a long plane ride, however, the time I spent getting to know Kelly Corrigan and her father, "Greenie," along with the rest of Kelly's family, made the plane not only bearable, but also enjoyable. She moved me from tears to laughter to a place of profound contentment. In the Prologue Kelly tells her readers that the one thing we need to know about her is that she's "George Corrigan's daughter." Ultimately, the one thing I believe this survival story is about is how love of family will see you through anything. Even cancer.
The Middle Place, according to Kelly, is the place between childhood and adulthood. This takes place for her between August, 2004 and August, 2005, which is the essential duration of the story. By alternating chapters between present and past, this young mother moves the reader from the middle place, a place where she learns she has breast cancer, to her past with stories of her life as her parents' child and her brothers' sister. Because Kelly, aka "Lovey," shares the cancer experience with her high-spirited and utterly lovable father, it makes the middle place that much more complicated and rich. She holds back little and seems keenly aware of her reader. Writing outside herself, she keeps readers in the loop in spite of very personal revelations. She is indeed her father's daughter.
A big fan of memoirs, this is one of the best I've read in a long time and I give it my highest recommendation.
Michele Cozzens is the author of Irish Twins
38 of 47 people found the following review helpful
on March 20, 2008
OK, I hate reviews like the one I'm about to write. There's nothing worse than those few downers who bring down the score for fantastic books, but I was shocked at how bad this book was after the resoundingly positive reviews on Amazon, and feel compelled to protest the five star rating.
The reviews on Amazon are generally reliable, so I opened this book expecting something that would blow me away. I read the book, and I was sorely disappoinetd. Yes, Kelly Corrigan can write somewhat of a page turner with cute, but not all the funny or interesting, stories about her family. _The Middle Place_ is a sappy memoir in which she details her neverending complaints about her family and cancer troubles. She puts nothing new on the table and has nothing remotely interesting to say. This woman seeks self validation from everything...her husband, her cancer, her family, her daughters. I will give it some credit and say that if you have breast cancer, any upbeat memoir with cutesy stories and a positive ending is probably a good choice for reading. However, I expected another Glass Castle, and I got a self help book. If you are into good memoir, don't bother with this one. If you liked Eat Pray Love (which was dreadful) then you will adore this book.
35 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on May 5, 2009
OK, hate that anyone has to go through cancer, and glad that she did survive. But. I found her superficial and trite, to be as kind as possible. When I got to the part of her sulking because her husband calls home...Or earlier, bringing down a whole group of friends at a dinner in Carmel, or the constant references to how much she cried, she lost me. The whole bit with her father was just too cutesy to bear. I do not understand all the five stars awarded this book. If you want to read about loss, survival and faith, go to Anne LaMott.
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Aptly titled, The Middle Place refers to the times in our lives when we're both child of our parents and a mother or father ourselves. We can be torn by these allegiances or as Kelly Corrigan did discover untapped resources within us and a deeper understanding of life.
The author begins her memoir with "The thing you need to know about me is that I am George Corrigan's daughter, his only daughter." For her that was akin to being royalty - totally loved, always encouraged, protected, safe, and happy. George, often called Greenie, was a larger than life man, a robust Irish Catholic ad salesman and lacrosse coach who never knew a stranger, enjoyed life to the fullest, and doted on his only daughter.
How could any boyfriend or husband begin to give Kelly what she received from her father? That's a difficult, almost impossible act to follow. She recounts a time after she and Edward have begun living together when she had excitedly told him that she's just gotten a new job with a great salary. Of course, she expected some sort of mini celebration that evening. Instead, Edward came through the door and began checking the day's mail. When she became exasperated at his lack of enthusiasm for what has just happened to her, he replied, "I'm not Greenie, Kelly. No one is." That was the truth and in a way the beginning of her emergence into adulthood.
The time came when Kelly was diagnosed with breast cancer and her beloved father who lived some 3,000 miles away was also cancer stricken. The man who had always been her mainstay now needed support himself. She is a married woman with two young children and as she says absolutely no time for "lumps."
That this story can be told with humor, honesty and grace is a tribute not only to Kelly Corrigan the person but to Kelly Corrigan the writer. She is superb! Her descriptions and similes are unique, true, and sing as her pen reveals what her eyes have seen and her heart has felt.
An accomplished voice performer, Tavia Gilbert is equally at home with commercials, jingles, songs, business presentations, and even assuming a fine British accent. Her narration of The Middle Place appropriately captures Kelly's tragedies and triumphs. Excellent listening!
- Gail Cooke
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on July 22, 2009
My book club picked this so I suffered through it. I am sincerely surprised that it got published! I agree with other reviewers that it starts out fine, but quickly turns into a compilation of the author telling boring little stories about growing up in a a nice, middle class family. The story jumps from the present and her struggle with breast cancer to some silliness about prom or buying a pair of jeans when she was growing up. She shares small details of spending time living all over the world exploring new and exciting experiences and then suddenly she's in a sales meeting in New York having a business meeting and can't fly home to San Francisco because she's afraid to fly?
The author comes across as self-centered, self-absorbed, and boring. And actually says that having breast cancer makes her body "defective." I find that highly offensive.
Don't waste your time!
20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on May 31, 2009
I'm not sure why people liked this book. I did not like the book because the main character was so incredibly self-focused and so needing for everything to be about her. I keep thinking it is fictional because surely the Dad couldn't be so perfect and the daughter so unlike him. Something just doesn't jive. But that is just my impression, I hope they will all continue to do well. I'd love to meet the Dad but would never be interested in meeting her. I must be missing something.