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Lift

Review

Lift

Kelly Corrigan wrote with wit and a never-waning sense of wonder
about her parents in the 2008 bestseller THE MIDDLE PLACE. She does
the same for her children in LIFT, which is short and sweet,
occasionally sentimental, stylishly sagacious, and, at times,
sardonic. It is a cross between a mother’s diary and a sea
captain’s log, mixing the salty behind-the-scenes true grit
of parenthood with a parent’s most secret longings for her
children.

Kelly has two daughters, who were barely toddling when she
discovered that she had breast cancer, the subject of her earlier
book. Now they are growing up, maybe too quickly for her taste.
“You won’t remember how it started with us, the things
that I know about you that you don’t even know about
yourselves…you’ll remember middle school and high
school, but you’ll have changed by then.” One suspects
--- no, one is sure --- that LIFT is Kelly’s way of trying to
guarantee that no matter what happens, her girls will have a
written set of memories to cherish when the incidents of childhood
are long forgotten.

One reason why Kelly may have more than the ordinary
mother’s zeal to keep those precious moments alive is found
in the story of her friend Kathy and Kathy’s son Aaron. Aaron
was “a joker and an optimist and a ponderer of great and
small things.” One night he went out to “swing by and
say hello to some people” and never came home. “I tell
you about Aaron,” she writes to her little girls,
“because I want you to live longer than he did.”

With cutting-edge humor that any parent can identify with,
Corrigan tells us that “my default answer to everything is
no.” But, she confesses to her daughters,
“What you probably wouldn’t believe is how much I want
to say yes.” Motherhood is all about that tug of war
and the mind’s responsibility to say no when your heart wants
to say yes.

One of the fine moments of motherhood is captured in a long
sequence reliving the time Kelly and her husband thought baby
Claire might have spinal meningitis. The harrowing wait for test
results, the frustration and helplessness of watching a baby suffer
through terrifying medical procedures remind us that all parents
have to be brave, make hard choices, and cry inwardly while waiting
and hoping without breaking down outwardly. It goes with the
territory.

The title of the book comes from the image of hang gliding ---
Kelly’s friend tells her that the sport involves flying
“from thermal to thermal, looking for lift.” And though
turbulence is dangerous, it’s also “the only way to get
altitude.” Kelly knows, and shows us, that family life also
involves looking for lift among periods of turbulence --- because
when you find it, you fly.

Reviewed by Barbara Bamberger Scott on December 30, 2010

Lift
by Kelly Corrigan

  • Publication Date: March 2, 2010
  • Genres: Memoir, Nonfiction
  • Hardcover: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Voice
  • ISBN-10: 1401341241
  • ISBN-13: 9781401341244