This book review of Tell Me More by Kelly Corrigan gives you the details of this thought-provoking essay book. And because this is a book pairings blog “where books meet lifestyle,” I have also provided some recommended pairings for further learning.
Book Review: Tell Me More by Kelly Corrigan
New York Times Bestseller
"I was wrong"
These are just two of the twelve "hardest things" Kelly Corrigan is learning to say. She's a middle-aged mom and breast cancer survivor who hails from Villanova, just outside Philadelphia, and now resides in San Francisco with her husband, two teenage daughters and dog.
Tell Me More is a compilation of twelve essays in which she grapples with the deaths of her father, whom she affectionately refers to as Greenie, and her best friend:
Accepting things as they are is difficult. A lot of people go to war with reality.
She has been described as a "poet laureate of the ordinary," able to give meaning and depth to something like ... a family fight over her poop-eating dog. It's like the last line of The Office:
There's a lot of beauty in ordinary things. Isn't that kind of the point?
Corrigan's descriptions of her loved ones are vivid and full of detail that makes them feel like acquaintances whom Corrigan is discussing personally with you over lunch. And her ruminations on life are thought-provoking:
It must be possible to say ‘No’ nicely and still be loved.
This is something I am grappling with. There is no easy way to say no, so I appreciated Corrigan's sentiment:
Learn to say no. And when you do, don’t complain and don’t explain. Every excuse you make is like an invitation to ask you again in a different way.
Now, that is one major truth bomb right there.
And as a graduate and former resident of Villanova University and a current resident of Philadelphia, I enjoyed Corrigan's local references to cheesesteaks, the 76ers, the pizza shop where she worked, and the Catholic church at the intersection with three gas stations. It's this kind of detail that brings Corrigan's essays to life and makes her so relatable.
It's her larger perspective on life, though, that leaves the reader thinking long after Tell Me More ends, and is why it just may change your life. In Corrigan's essay, "It's Like This," she painstakingly describes a hectic morning after her father's death in which her daughters are bickering over a shirt. After her children go to school and her husband goes to work the dust settles and she is left with her thoughts:
This forgetting, this slide into smallness, this irritability and shame, this disorienting grief: It’s like this. Minds don’t rest; they reel and wander and fixate and roll back and reconsider because it’s like this, having a mind. Hearts don’t idle; they swell and constrict and break and forgive and behold because it’s like this, having a heart. Lives don’t last; they thrill and confound and circle and overflow and disappear because it’s like this, having a life.
For more like Tell Me More:
- Check out Late Migrations, a Read with Jenna book club pick I discussed on The Today Show, which is also an essay book dealing largely with grief in thoughtful ways.
- Watch the last episode of The Office and/or catch up on This is Us.
- And journal or meditate about what's hard for you to say and why. Are you good at saying "no"? If not, how can you improve this for your own self care?
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