Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Book Review: The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan

I wasn't sure if I should read The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan after just finishing The Road.  I thought it might be too much sorrow and suffering but surprisingly, it was the perfect book.  I mean, I really enjoyed reading it.  It was uplifting and so full of . . . love.  My spirit felt buoyed after reading it.

Ms. Corrigan was diagnosed with breast cancer and this book chronicles her journey.  But honestly, the cancer was a backdrop to the wonderful story of her life:  a life where family (both the family you're born into or create and the one you build made up of friends) is pivotal and is, at the end of the day, all that really matters.

I don't have much to say about The Middle Place except that it was such an enjoyable read.  I thought at times that Ms. Corrigan didn't take the cancer seriously enough but I know that's not true having read her other book Lift.  I thought, in a weird, twisted way, that she was fortunate that her father (and you can feel the love and devotion she has for him) had cancer while she had cancer because it forced her to not be hyper-focused on her own suffering.  I think that made all the difference in the energy that permeates her story.

I mean, the book touched me.  I think Ms. Corrigan is an engaging person--someone I'd like to be friends with.  She's had an interesting life and so much of how she approached the whole thing is how I would have approached it.  She's not particularly faith-filled (though she was raised by two people with unshakeable faith in God like me) and yet, she made it through something as harrowing as cancer.  Also, in that time before she knew it was cancer, she had the horrible thought that maybe she wanted to have cancer just to see how she'd perform.  Now, my life has had some bumps and bruised but I've never been tested to that extent.  It's kind of a sick admission . . . I was relieved to see that that I'm not the only one who has ever thought those kind of thoughts.  And then there's the children issue:  how she knew all her life that she wanted to have lots and lots of children and how she was faced with the possibility that it might not happen.   And how irritating it can be when people say, "You should just be grateful for your two" because it's not that you're not grateful for what you have.  It's not that at all.  It's that you're so grateful for the experience of meeting these wonderful small people--flesh of your flesh, blood of your blood--you want to meet as many of them as you can.  

So, yes, I identified strongly with Ms. Corrigan and I'm so happy to have read her book at this point in my life.  I've had it for a while (picked it up at the thrift store some time ago).  It was nice to read a book without feeling the pressure of a due date.  And I need all the low-pressure uplift I can get.


Italia said...

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 Original Wombman said...

Italia, what a great review. I totally agree. :)

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