Glitter and Glue by Kelly Corrigan
2014 Ballantine Books (imprint of Random House)
Finished on 11/21/13
Rating: 4/5 (Very Good)
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Middle Place comes a new memoir that examinees the bond—sometimes nourishing, sometimes exasperating, occasionally divine—between mothers and daughters.
When Kelly Corrigan was in high school, her mother neatly summarized the family dynamic as “Your father’s the glitter but I’m the glue.” This meant nothing to Kelly, who left childhood sure that her mom—with her inviolable commandments and proud stoicism—would forever remain her father’s understudy.
After college, Kelly took off for Australia to see things and do things and Become Interesting. But soon after savings dwindled, and she realized she needed a job. That’s how Kelly met John Tanner, a newly widowed father of two looking for a live-in nanny. And there, in that house in a suburb north of Sydney, she suddenly heard her mother’s voice everywhere, nudging and advising, cautioning and direction, escorting her through a terrain as foreign as any she had ever trekked.
This is a book about the differences between travel and life experience, stepping out and stepping up, fathers and mothers. But mostly it’s about who you admire and why, and how that changes over time.
I discovered Kelly Corrigan’s early prose several years ago when I stumbled upon her website (Circus of Cancer), while scouring the Internet for information about my youngest brother’s cancer. Shortly thereafter, I got an ARC of The Middle Place and I was pleasantly surprised to see that Kelly was the author. I found myself completely absorbed in this memoir, marking passages and nodding my head in agreement. A few years later, I did the exact same thing with Kelly’s poignant new book, Lift, which I read twice in two weeks. I became a big fan and started following Corrigan’s blog and watching her YouTube videos, eager for a new book to add to my collection. I have now read all three of Kelly Corrigan’s memoirs and they each have spoken to me about various aspects of my own life. I can hear her voice in my head as I read and, as with her YouTube clips, her memoirs make me laugh out loud in one instant and bring tears to my eyes in another. As her editor states in her letter to readers at the beginning of the ARC for Glitter and Glue:
Here’s the thing about Kelly Corrigan: You can’t read her books without wanting to be her best friend. It’s just that simple. As soon as you turn this page, you’ll see what I mean. It’s like the best of all magic tricks, the way she puts readers under her spell, and it doesn’t take long. One minute, you’re starting a new book, and the next, it’s as if you’re sitting across the table from the author, listening to her tell her story over a cup of coffee.
I wish I lived in Manhattan Beach, California. Not only do I have family there (and it’s on the beach!), but I could have had the chance to meet Kelly today at Pages A Bookstore (which is less than half a mile from my aunt’s house!) where Kelly was having a book signing. This past week, she was at The Tattered Cover in Denver (almost close enough!) and Santaluz Country Club in San Diego (where I have more family and friends). Next month she'll be in Dallas (at the Highland United Methodist Church), which is where my daughter lives. Somehow, I doubt she’ll be in Nebraska anytime soon.
But back to the new book, which I actually read three months ago. (Yes, I am still trying to catch-up…) I was hooked from the first page, reading slowly, savoring it as long as possible. As a daughter, and also the mother of a grown daughter, I enjoyed all the passages about Kelly and her mom, once again finding myself nodding in agreement as I read. The majority of the memoir focuses on Kelly’s time as a nanny to a family in Australia and while I enjoyed that part of the narrative, I longed for more about mothers and daughters. I guess it’s time to re-read Lift!
Take a look at Kelly’s most recent YouTube clips about Glitter and Glue here and here. This is also a favorite.
You can find my reviews for The Middle Place and Lift here and here.