Jacqui's Reviews > The Middle Place

The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan
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's review
Mar 23, 2009

it was ok
Read in March, 2009

Just started. I've laughed and cried already and am only a couple of chapters into it. I can't imagine getting cancer, but breast cancer is in my line now that my grandmother is suffering from it.


I just finished, and I'd love to give this book more stars, but I feel it would be overly generous. I really liked Kelly at the beginning of the book, and I really WANTED to like her by the end, but just couldn't relate.

A few things bothered me. I didn't like reading with a pen in my hand to mark out the offensive language. I am not a prude, and I even think that some basic swearing can occasionally add to the realism of a situation, but one thing that gets to me is the use of the so-called f-bomb. I don't want to qualify when it should be used (if ever), but it is especially off-putting when it's thrown into an average scenario or situation. Not loving that. I just think there is a better, classier way to communicate. (If you'd rather borrow my censored copy, just let me know). Another thing is she takes the Lord's name in vain so much that I started blacking that out, too. I found it interesting that for someone who doesn't believe in God, His name is her favorite swear word.

The story--well, it has many poignant passages, and some that are hilarious. I admit, though, that several times I just want to say "buck up, girl, you are not 10 anymore." Kelly has an incredible relationship with her dad--what a guy!--but I don't think she appreciates her mom as much as she should. Yeah, they're different, but for me, when she spoke about her mom, it was usually a complaining whine and it grated on my nerves. Her Mom sounds like a saint...but maybe that's what bothered her. She says over and over that she is a Corrigan, through and through. While I LOVE the family banter, the nick names, the bonding, I didn't buy that she was 100% Corrigan. Her dad is an upbeat, gregarious, optimistic, faith-filled, mass-going man. Kelly is really funny, but besides that part I didn't see a ton that made her a cookie cutter copy of her Dad.

I think she does a good job of portraying our humanity realistically. All of us are far from perfect, we lose it, we take things for granted, we act stupid, selfish and impatient. I appreciated her ability to find beauty in every day situations. I didn't like reading about her losing her virginity. I don't need the details about it, even if it is to prove thatshe was ditching the Catholic church's teachings. Yes, plenty of people do that, but it didn't add anything to the book to detail the situation.

The main problem I have is relating to someone who has zero faith in God. I can't handle the whole agnostic yuppie mentality of "we are living in the Bay Area, therefore we are more enlightened than you." Faith is such a driving force in my life that I cannot believe her when she says that God cannot cure cancer, that He cannot work at the "cellular level." Yet, by the end of the book, her mother (portrayed as a simpleton) believes that a healing is a miracle and attributes it to faith and prayers. Kelly can't agree about the miracle, but she also can't give any other explanation as to why the healing happened. But it sure is quaint that people prayed.

And the title...The Middle Place. It's a reference to still being reliant on your parents--still being their child--while simultaneously being a parent, too. I guess I thought that this "place" was more likely to occur in your 20's. Kelly is pushing 40 at the end of the story. Maybe it's because I was married young and experienced the "middle place" (still needing mom and dad to take care of me somewhat) during my 20's. I can't imagine being there now, let alone at 40+. Maybe it's a generational thing, as more and more people marry later in life, so are dependent on their parents for longer periods of time, and that dependency spills over into what historically has been a more mature period of life (30's).

I expected more of an 'ah-ha' moment at the end of the book, but it never happened. I can't figure out where her growth took place...for example, toward the end she's meeting with a nutritionalist who is trying to help her adjust her diet so there is less of a chance for recurrence. She makes fun of everything the nutritionalist says, balking at the idea of cutting back on alcohol to save her life. I kept thinking that the medical institution just SAVED her, yet where is the respect? The appreciation?

What do you think? Have you read this? I would be interested to know your opinions. Personally, despite the rave reviews elsewhere, if I had to do it over I'd skip this book.
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05/15/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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Sydnee I really liked your review. I'm about 2 or 3 years younger than Kelly and I do feel that I am in that middle place, though. Even though I will be 38 soon, my parents are young and vibrant and still dote on me. I love that! And I love that I can turn to them for advice on all kinds of things, including raising my own kids. I agree with you about taking the Lord's name in vain and using the "F" word so much. It's really sad that so many people of her socio-economic status think it's just the way you express yourself when it's really just being lazy. I loved that expression you used "We are living in the bay area therefore we are more enlightened than you"! So true!

Marianne Wonnacott I totally agree with you about the language. It ruined the book for me. I put it down after about 80 pages and I am not interested in finishing. Very offensive.

Bookishmother I agree with your review. I found it difficult to sympathize with her "Daddy's Girl" mentality, found the language unnecessarily offensive, and thought she treated her mom really poorly. I also did not think the writing was a good as it thought it was.

Laura grow up.

message 5: by Judith (new)

Judith I appreciate the time you spent writing a good review. you hit upon many of my idea.

message 6: by Denice (new)

Denice Gah why do they have to spoil the book with the f bomb? So not classy. Thx for the heads up.

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