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I’m Irish. That must be where the luck comes from, the luck required to find a publisher after filling diaries and journals for thirty years, first in a gingham wonderland from Sears, then in a dorm room in Virginia, finally in a fixer-upper near Oakland, California.
My first book, The Middle Place, was about my father, Greenie, who was very sick at the same time that I was very sick. Next, in 2010, I tried to capture what it has been to my daughters’ mother in Lift. Finally, with Glitter and Glue, my mother gets her due. Now, Mary Corrigan is a complicated topic, as most mothers are. Think stoic, gritty, unbending; one part saint, two parts sergeant. Or, as she put it, “Your father’s the glitter, but I’m the glue. It takes both, Kelly.”
I hope that somehow, given the toppling pile of books on your nightstand, you can find an evening to spare for this story of how I came to wonder who my mom was before I arrived, what motherhood had done to her and who she had become since I left home. Parenthood is so distorting; we all deserve a second, longer look.
When mother of two Corrigan struggles with cancer, she remembers a mother she never met more than 20 years earlier in 1992 in Australia. Back then, seeking money to enhance the next leg of her round-the-world travels, Corrigan became the nanny for a widower, John, whose family—five-year-old Martin and seven-year-old Milly as well as a garage-living stepson and an in-law-apartment-living father-in-law—had just lost their matriarch to cancer. Though it’s a true story, Corrigan has changed the names and some of the details to disguise identities. Here, the memories of her work as companion, surrogate mom, and onetime lover to various family members are filtered through Corrigan’s experiences, good and bad, of herself as mother and herself as daughter (her mom’s admonitions and pronouncements, served up in italics, support the young nanny as well as the text, then and now). The flavor of what a youthful, journal-writing Corrigan probably once hoped this book would be—a spectacle of travel and awesome experience—comes through in the writing but doesn’t disturb this touching, hard-won paean to mothering and parenting, living and losing. --Eloise Kinney
Reading one of Kelly’s books is like sitting down at lunch with your hysterical soul sister who’s been there, done that, so full of wisdom that you want more and more of this girl who writes like the wind with her heart. You want that lunch to go on into dinner and into the night below the stars with a glass of wine so you can hear her life stories and keep telling yourself, "Yes! My feelings exactly! You too?!" This sister of yours just has a way about her, and the Mindful Readers are forever devoted students in this world of Kelly Corrigan. We read. We listen. We learn so much from her. We are always moved to tears.
So in this book Glitter and Glue we thank Kelly once again for her lighthearted journey, this time reliving life with Ma, Mary Dwyer Corrigan, the woman she admires, I’m sure, most in this world; the woman who’s shaped her into the person she is today; the mother, grandma, and queen she’s come to understand and respect most beautifully. Because moms are like that: We appreciate them more powerfully at certain times and in different ways throughout our lives. And we miss them desperately when they’re gone. So like the metaphor used in this book, moms mirror the queens in chess. We must always be aware of them. Protect them. This book will inspire moms and daughters, but as I am a writer with two sons, I bear witness that Glitter and Glue will turn any mom's world upside down in the most perfect, sobbing-mommy mess kind of way. A good way.
“The mother is the most essential piece on the board, the one you must protect. Only she has the range. Only she can move in multiple directions. Once she’s gone, it’s a whole different game.” | Kelly Corrigan
This is a true story about a young woman who realizes how important her mother is to her while she was working as a nanny to two recently motherless children. She realized that in her family her mother was the glue that kept her children growing in a responsible way. Her dad was the fun guy, or the glitter. With Kelly's realization of how important her mother was her resentment vanished and she came to admire, respect, and adore her mother. There is no question that she always loved her.
This book made me look at my parents during my growing-up years. It's not always the mother who is the glue. In my family it was my father, but I think in some families it's not so cut and dried. I imagine some parents are both glue which is probably fine, but it seems that if both parents are glitter it could be a disaster. Or, each parent could be glitter and glue which seems as though it should be okay as long as they are mentally stable.
I very much enjoyed this thought provoking book. It's not the kind of book I want to read all the time, but something that makes me think a little bit once in awhile is refreshing.
My book club read this book and it did make for good discussion about parents, children and family relationships. On the negative side, some members of our club thought the characters of the book grew too close too easily. They didn't think the story was quite real. I disagree as I thought people do sometimes grow close quickly. It won't be our selection as best book we read this year!
A thoughtful novel about a daughter who learns new appreciation for her own mother, when she is a part-time nanny for two children in Australia who recently lost their mother to cancer. Part travelogue, part reflection, part stream of consciousness, this book is touted as a reflection on mothers and daughters. However, though there was this aspect to it, I found the book interesting simply because it was written in the first person, and I think it is more a memoir of the author's trip. As such, I found it more appealing than simple "reflection". This is the way most of us learn about various aspects of life: our perceptions and thoughts change as we simply live through experiences which were not intended to make us think about what actually does come out of the experience. For this reason, I liked it, though I was confused at first as it was not what the review led me to expect. It also reflects on experiences we have where we get close to people, and have an influence on their lives, and they on ours, then because of geography or circumstance, we know we will never actually see them again. And that is sad, but just the way life works. We take from these experiences what we need at the time, and give what we have to give, then move on.
After hearing Kelly speak and reading so many other reviews of this book I suppose it is such a gift to her mother and that is the central story. As a traveler and backpacker I loved the actual "nuts and bolts" of the story which was about her travels through Australia and beyond. Of course there were many flashbacks and heartfelt thoughts of her mom but it was a great story and a great experience to have. In the last art where she really dedicates it to her mom, it does bring some tears of how much she loves her and brings out that this was a gift but they are happy tears. It is a nice story a a beautiful offering to her mom .
IF you loved, loved The Middle Place but were then disappointed with Lift, and maybe debated reading her again ... please, please read this one. Lovely. Poignant, real as only she can be.
The Middle Place touched many women with her honest fear in a battle with cancer. How her family, especially her dad rallied around her with optimism and cheer. And of course, she won.
Glitter and Glue touches on the mother/daughter mystique and all the turmoil such a relationship goes through. She loves her mother, but doesn't feel close. As she grows up she feels they will never understand one another. Then she has her own children. Much more is understood. Then many more years elapse until finally she comes full circle.
Kelly is strong writer with the ability to make me consider my own struggles with my mother, my doubts. She does it with humor and challenge. I recommend this book and am now back in her camp. Also if you ever have the opportunity to hear her speak, she is PHENOMENAL. Period.