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Book Review - The Middle Place

About.com Rating 3.5 Star Rating


Updated March 09, 2008

The Middle Place

The Middle Place

Kelly Corrigan

The Bottom Line

Kelly Corrigan finds a lump on her 37th birthday, and is soon diagnosed with breast cancer. But she has so much going on in her life – children, husband, parents, brothers and friends – that she doesn't focus on telling us about her treatment battle. Instead, she talks about her childhood with her ebullient father and practical mother, fights over jeans in her adolescence, globetrotting in college, and finding the love of her life. Along the way, her father is diagnosed with prostate cancer, facing it with faith and a positive attitude. Father and daughter encourage each other, and ultimately triumph.
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  • Well-written, conversational prose
  • Loving and honest portrayal of family life
  • Sandwich Generation issues will be familiar to many readers
  • Dual stories of father and daughter's cancer battles


  • A couple of secondary stories are left hanging, causing reader frustration


  • Author: Kelly Corrigan
  • Publisher: Voice, a division of Hyperion
  • ISBN 978-1-4013-0336-5
  • Copyright: 2008
  • List price: $23.95
  • Book Details: 272 pages, 39 chapters, hardcover
  • Author's Website: www.kellycorrigan.com

Guide Review - Book Review - The Middle Place

Kelly is the adored daughter of George Corrigan, a congenitally cheerful magazine ad salesman and lacrosse coach. She honestly enjoys George's constant approval and encouragement. "He makes me feel smart, funny, and beautiful, which has become the job of the few men who have loved me since," she writes. When she and her father are both diagnosed with cancer, Kelly looks back on her life, remembering good times, fights, love, sex, birth and death. She tells her story with humor, drawing the reader in with her conversational style. The book's focus is riveted on herself, and her avoidance of growing up or out of her identity as George's daughter. Only at the very end of the book do you feel that she is willing to fully grow up.

As a breast cancer patient, she isn't a great example. Either her oncologist forgot to advise her, or she forgot to ask about chemotherapy's effect on future fertility. On completing treatment she learns that she can't go on to have more children, and she is shocked and saddened. Kelly openly documents how much alcohol she consumes, before and during treatment, and then admits to hedging her replies when a nutritionist counsels her about the effects of alcohol on her risk levels. Also, she admits to avoiding cooking and exercise, and pokes fun at those who do. I want to turn back the clock for her, and make her more proactive about her health, force her to ask her doctors more questions in advance.

Kelly Corrigan writes brisk, snappy prose with humor-tinged truth packed into every paragraph. Her accounts of mother-daughter fights are genuine and don't flatter either person. But when she talks about her dad, well, she just flat makes me jealous. Indefatigably cheerful, positive, faithful, and always on her side against the world, George is truly the star of this book. Every girl should have such a father.

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