Glitter and Glue: A Memoir
Kelly Corrigan has convinced us: She values her family, through three generations, including her own. In THE MIDDLE PLACE, she explored her love for her glittering father, Greenie. Now, in GLITTER AND GLUE, she reveals that mothers, like her own, are the glue that holds everything together.
To make this discovery, Kelly goes back in time to a job she had in her errant youth, when she and a friend were doing the world travel thing. In Australia, broke and hoping for work much more glamorous, she winds up as the nanny for two children whose mother has recently passed away. Imbued with cynicism about the child-rearing methods of her own mother, whom she regards (don’t we all?) as overly strict, she finds she is shocked at the too-lenient techniques of the traumatized widower. Confronted with caring for a disengaged, sarcastic teenage girl and her dreamy, distant younger brother, Kelly begins to see how painful it must have been to have been her mother (or any mother, for that matter).
"Kelly Corrigan has convinced us: She values her family, through three generations, including her own. In THE MIDDLE PLACE, she explored her love for her glittering father, Greenie. Now, in GLITTER AND GLUE, she reveals that mothers, like her own, are the glue that holds everything together."
It gradually dawns on her that these are children who need a mother, and she tries to fill that role, by hit or miss. Using the analogy of a chess game, she opines that “the mother is the most essential piece on the board…only she has the range. Only she can move in multiple directions.” And “what a colossal waste that we can only appreciate certain riches --- clean clothes, hot showers, good health, mothers --- in their absence.”
After her return to the US, Kelly begins to try to understand her mother better, to grasp why her beloved and rather flamboyant, highly sociable dad could have fallen in love with her in the first place. In the process, she gains a foothold on her mother’s territory, learns that her mother, who always seemed so humorless and prudish, could charm a room full of real estate guys with an off-color joke, and that she would have loved to have lived in San Francisco, as Kelly chose to do, when she was young. But it took having two bright, argumentative daughters of her own for Kelly to really get it, to be able to say, “I want to tell my mom that I admire her.”
GLUTTER AND GLUE poses a few mysteries: What happened to the family that Kelly “mothered” in Australia? And what would happen to her family if a recently discovered tumor turns out to be more than just scar tissue? Cleverly, Kelly, whose take on even the thornier vicissitudes of life is intelligent and humorous, leaves these questions open. Perhaps she will revisit them another time? Let’s hope so.
Reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott on February 7, 2014