Published by Random House LLC Source: Netgalley
Genres: Coming of Age, Contemporary, Contemporary Women, Memoir
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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 be nothing more than background chatter for the rest of Kelly’s life, which she was carefully orienting toward adventure. After college, armed with a backpack, her personal mission statement, and a wad of traveler’s checks, she took off for Australia to see things and do things and Become Interesting.
But it didn’t turn out the way she pictured it. In a matter of months, her savings shot, she had a choice: get a job or go home. That’s how Kelly met John Tanner, a newly widowed father of two looking for a live-in nanny. They chatted for an hour, discussed timing and pay, and a week later, Kelly moved in. And there, in that house in a suburb north of Sydney, 10,000 miles from the house where she was raised, her mother’s voice was suddenly everywhere, nudging and advising, cautioning and directing, escorting her through a terrain as foreign as any she had ever trekked. Every day she spent with the Tanner kids was a day spent reconsidering her relationship with her mother, turning it over in her hands like a shell, straining to hear whatever messages might be trapped in its spiral.
This is a book about the difference 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.
So this book really didn’t do anything for me at all. I like a good memoir every once in a while, and I’ve read some really great ones, so I was actually really looking forward to reading this book when I finally got it on my kindle. So this book follows Kelly in two different and very distinct periods of her life, when she was a young adult kind of finding her way, and then the second part is when she herself is a mother and takes on a much more serious feel to it.
I really thought I would enjoy this book because I love looking at family dynamics, and it was kind of clear to me early on in this book that it was going to really look at family dynamics and more specifically the relationship Kelly had with her mother. I myself am super close with my mother now that I am an adult, but as a kid/teenager we couldn’t have been more different or more combative, so I did kind of relate to some of the scenes in the book, especially the younger years ones.
My problem with the book was mainly that I didn’t really ever feel bonded to Kelly, I wanted to, I really did. But the first part of the book nothing happened, if anything I found Kelly to be a bit on the shallow side, and just hard to be likable at all. There were glimpses of profound thought in the first part, but it never really came together for me. It set the tone for the entire book and for me that tone just didn’t work. I would have much rather have had the entire book be part two, and just and expanded version of that. Part two was significantly better than the first, and I did find Kelly to be a whole lot more likable when she was older, but I still never really had that moment of clicking with her.
I could easily see how this book would find a wide range of audiences, so if you are looking for a memoir, especially one that has an emphasis on mothers and daughters, I would without a doubt say this might be the book you are looking for.