Monday, May 25, 2009

Review: The Middle Place

Summary: For Kelly Corrigan, family is everything. At thirty-six, she had a marriage that worked, two funny, active kids, and a weekly newspaper column. But even as a thriving adult, Kelly still saw herself as the daughter of garrulous Irish-American charmer George Corrigan. She was living deep within what she calls the Middle Place--“that sliver of time when parenthood and childhood overlap”--comfortably wedged between her adult duties and her parents’ care. But Kelly is abruptly shoved into coming-of-age when she finds a lump in her breast--and gets the diagnosis no one wants to hear. When George, too, learns that he has late-stage cancer, it is Kelly’s turn to take care of the man who had always taken care of her--and to show us a woman who finally takes the leap and grows up. -- Hyperion Books

When I found out that Book Club Girl was doing a BlogTalk Radio show with Kelly Corrigan, author of THE MIDDLE PLACE, I was so excited. I have been wanting to read this book for months, and the radio show was the perfect opportunity to move it up to the top of my list. I absolutely loved this book, and I will be recommending it to every woman I know.

When I started THE MIDDLE PLACE, I knew I was in for a treat. I had only read three or four chapters, when I went to Twitter to share my thoughts. I loved Ms. Corrigan's writing style, and I actually felt like she was one of my girlfriends and just telling me about her life. I have to warn you that this book is very absorbing and I didn't want to put it down. In fact, I actually went up to my room, crawled into bed, and pulled up the covers -- I didn't come back out until I finished the entire book.

I just love the title of this book -- THE MIDDLE PLACE. The Middle Place refers to the time in our life when we are both mother to our own children and still a child to our parents or "that sliver of time when parenthood and childhood overlap" -- I am definitely in the Middle Place right now. It's not that I'm still dependent on my parents, but I am very close to them and I want to share good news with them (immediately after I tell my husband -- I'm not that bad.) I thought the title was just perfect because Ms. Corrigan was certainly living in her own middle place until she is forced to grow up when she has to face breast cancer.

Ms. Corrigan's story of beating breast cancer while also dealing with her father's own battle with cancer is an amazing story on so many levels. First and foremost, I was deeply touched by the way the author handled her cancer while also being a great mom. I think so many women my age fear that this could happen to them -- I know it's one of my worst nightmares; and to see someone share her story and handle it with so much grace and dignity, is absolutely inspiring. In adddition, I greatly appreciated how Ms. Corrigan portrayed the relationship between herself and her father. I know there's something special between a daddy and his little girl, but their relationship transcends even that. What a special person George Corrigan is and I feel lucky that I got to "meet" him even though it was only through a book!

I especially enjoyed seeing how Ms. Corrigan grew up and matured throughout this book. I know a cancer scare and fear of losing your father are major wake-up calls, but not everyone would handle these problems like she did. Just that she became aware that she was living in the Middle Place and needed to "bury her childhood" is incredibly insightful, and I'd suspect very difficult to do -- I'm not sure I'm quite "there" yet. This book definitely struck a chord with me. In so many ways, I could relate to Ms. Corrigan and her relationship with her family; and I found myself laughing about how similar our husbands are (or at least in some of the ways that they deal with us.)

I have to say that Ms. Corrigan knows how to tell a story. Even when dealing with the most horrific nightmare -- getting cancer in her 30s when she has two young daughters -- she managed to infuse so much humor into this book. (If you've seen any of her videos, you will clearly see what I'm talking about.) This book could have been such a dark, depressing story; and yet, it was funny, poignant, and definitely hopeful. I loved all of her stories, especially those about her father who is larger-than-life; and I actually felt as if I "knew" her family after reading about them for 250+ pages.

THE MIDDLE PLACE would make an incredible book for your next book club meeting. Not only is it a wonderful read, but there is so much to talk about. I know for a fact that my book club would just love this book because I think we can all relate in at least one way to Ms. Corrigan. And while we might not be facing the exact same issues, the themes is this book are universal to all women. I think there are so many interesting things to talk about in this book including loss, marriage, family, parent-child relationships, faith, growing up, etc. -- the list could go on and on. I was excited to find out that there are discussion questions available which will help direct the discussion.

The BlogTalk Radio show is scheduled for this week -- Wednesday, May 27th at 7:00 p.m. You can set a reminder or listen to the show live here. If you can't make it on Wednesday night, don't despair -- you will still be able to listen to the tape at a later time. I am so excited about this show and can't wait to hear Ms. Corrigan talk about her incredible book.

As I was preparing to write this review, I watched quite a few terrific videos about Kelly Corrigan and THE MIDDLE PLACE; however, none touched me like this one -- "Transcending." This essay actually appears in the back of the paperback version of THE MIDDLE PLACE, and I cried again when I read it. I know most of you have probably already seen it, but just in case....

11 comments:

Beth F said...

This books sounds so moving. Super review.

imbookingit said...

OK, I've filed this book away for next time my book clubs consider books!

Thanks for the review.

Diane said...

I have The Middle Place and read so many great reviews; need to get to that one.

Molly said...

I have read nothing but positive reviews for this book, but yours has absolutely convinced me that I must have this one in my own personal library.

You obviously take a lot of thought - and time - in writing your reviews. It is greatly admired and appreciated!

Laughing Stars said...

This looks great! Thanks for adding this to my list. ;-)

bermudaonion said...

Your review is fantastic - just blows mine away! I loved the book, too.

Gerbera Daisy Mom said...

One of the best books I've read all year. Kelly Corrigan spoke at our Race For the Cure Survivor's Luncheon in October. She's amazing.

Dar said...

Great review. I never did get my copy in the mail so I'll have to miss the chat but I'd still like to read the book. Hopefully it'll still come.

S. Krishna said...

What a review! I definitely will have to read this one.

Stephanie said...

That transcending video is a really good one. Need to have the tissues out!

Philip said...

Great review Julie. I read the book this spring and I could not put it down either. Ms. Corrigan seemed like an old friend after the 1st few pages and since I grew up in the same neighborhoods as she did, the story seemed even more personal to me. I recommend this book and this author to friends all the time.