Monday, January 21, 2008

The Middle Place

Kelly Corrigan's moving memoir is the story of one year in her life, but it's the story of a lifetime. And, it's the story of every woman who was daddy's little girl, doted on by a loving father, and adoring him in return. The Middle Place might be a story for the sandwich generation, but it reaches beyond one group to touch so many. It's the story of cancer patients, cancer survivors, mothers, fathers, daughters, and andy family members who love each other, and fear the death of the people they love. Her autobiography is her personal story, a tribute to her family, but, in some ways, it's a tribute to every loving family.

Although Kelly Corrigan was in her late thirties, married to a loving husband, and father of two young daughters, she still defined herself as George Corrigan's only daughter. She was the adored daughter of "Greenie," a Catholic, loud, funny man. And, his love was reciprocated. Although she had two brothers, and a mother who loved her, as the youngest child, and only daughter, she felt as if she was her father's princess.

However, in 2004, Kelly discovered a lump in her breast, and the diagnosis was breast cancer. And, for the first time she found herself in that "middle place," what she realized was "that sliver of time when childhood and parenthood overlap," when you're still someone's child while being a parent. Kelly wanted her parents, at the same time she needed to help her young daughters through her cancer.

And, it only became worse when her father was diagnosed with bladder cancer. She had to try to live for her children, and fight against her cancer, while railing against the cancer that threatened her father's life, a seventy-four-year old man who had to deal with treatments.

The Middle Place is the story of a spoiled daughter, who craved her father's attention. At the same time, it's about a woman growing into her adult life, accepting her role as a wife and mother, trying to leave the same kind of memories for her daughters that her father gave her. George Corrigan was a vital force in Kelly's life. Now, she wanted to leave traces that she was once alive, memories for her children.

Kelly Corrigan's memoir moved me to laughter, while at times, it made me want to tell her to grow up. The story will provoke tears, laughter, and, sometimes, frustration. It's the story of one year of crisis in her life. It's even more, with the anecdotes about her entire life with her father. If you're a daughter who lost a father prematurely, for whatever reason, the book will evoke memories and longing. The Middle Place will bring back all of the love you shared with your father. Kelly Corrigan can count herself lucky that George Corrigan was in her life.

The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan. Hyperion, ©2008. ISBN 9781401303365 (hardcover), 266p.


Les said...

I read this last month and thought it was pretty good. I agree with your comment about feeling frustrated with the author. If you're interested, you can read my review here.

Lesa said...

Les - Your reviews are wonderful. And, Kelly actually responded to your comments about the book! I know that doesn't change the frustration, particularly after what you went through.

Thanks for writing about it.

janrocco said...

Just finished Kelly's book. I loved it. This book is to be discussed at our next book club meeting. I read this in two days and hated to sleep or eat for fear of missing the next page. I so related to Mary, her mom and yearned for a father (like George). I recoginized the line-up of the chairs in the Chem Room and the sound of the radiation table slides, and the nurses. We had our favorites who made the five hours seem softer. I didn't have cancer, my husband did. On his chemo days, I would leave work and meet him, like a date. We talked, whispered, and chuckled at private jokes. I read to him and he seemed to enjoy our time together. My husband had the Whipple and not many expected him to survive this. I did. Rocco ran the D.C. Marathon one year later.
Kelly's book was a joy to read. I read the prologue to Rocco and other special parts as I went through it. I marked place I loved so I can read them again.

Lesa said...

Oh, Jan. Your email made me cry. It sounds as if you and your husband did the best you could to make it a special time, despite what you were both going through.

I'm glad the book hit home, and I'll be interested to hear what your book club says.

Take care, and take care of Rocco.