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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
The timing of reading Glitter & Glue couldn't have been better. I read it while I sat holding my dying mothers hand for 9 days. Until that moment I was certain nobody had problems thru out life w/a not so warm & fuzzy mom. Glitter & Glue was therapy. It was healing. It was exactly what I needed at exactly the moment I needed it. I get it now. I can smile & laugh & it felt so right to tell my mom "you are the best mom in the world" when I last kissed her sweet face. I do appreciate Kelly Corrigan for sharing her thoughts in such a humorous manner & closing a chapter in my life for the better. I absolutely will read this book more thimes than once. Undoubtedly I'll also be giving it as gifts. Thank You, Kelly from the bottom of my grateful heart. Ginny Renaud, Scottsdale, Arizona
Another excellent Kelly Corrigan. Greenie would be proud (of course he'd be proud if she made him a macaroni necklace) and her mother would be able to actually give her a solid compliment.
Reading Kelly Corrigan is like sitting in a room with your BFF, drinking a glass of wine and listening as she catches you up on the latest events of her life. Her story of a complicated, ever changing mother / daughter relationship is amazingly relatable; add that to the fact that she is an excellent storyteller, a very likeable narrator and you have a great book.
I rarely ever give a book 5 Stars but I felt this book deserved it. Clearly written from the heart, it is a story about a woman discovering what an excellent mother she had been blessed with although she spent the first half of her life taking her mother for granted, trying to change her and at times even wishing for a more 'fun' mom.
First, caring for children whose mother had recently passed away and then parenting her own children made her understand and fully appreciate her mother.
The story was so absorbing, I kept having to do a reality check and remind myself the book is a memoir, not fiction. It wasn't going to have a tidy little ending with Kelly swooping in like 'Mary Poppins' and willing the family she nannied for into eternal magical happiness. I also found myself wanting her to fall in love with Evan and stay with the family forever but then remembering that I have read her other books and I know that's not how the story goes.
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!