Just after graduating from college, Kelly Corrigan‘s motto was, “Things happen when you leave the house.” She was so eager to leave behind what she considered her dull home life, that she traveled to the other side of the earth, putting entire continents between her and her family. Corrigan was backpacking in Australia with a friend when her funds dwindled and she accepted a nanny job that would permanently change her world view.
This is the framework for Corrigan’s new memoir, Glitter and Glue. Corrigan used journal entries, letters and photographs from this time in 1992 to write about her job caring for two children in Australia whose mother had recently died. The Tanner family–also composed of the children’s father, grandfather and stepbrother–is still mired in grief when Corrigan moves in. Although the nanny gig is temporary–Corrigan plans to rejoin her friend in five months so they can scuba-dive along the Great Barrier Reef–the insights that she gains follow Corrigan back to America; back at home, Corrigan has a new appreciation for her family, especially her mother.
Corrigan wrote poignantly of having breast cancer at the same time that her father was being treated for late-stage bladder cancer in her 2008 memoir, The Middle Place. She dedicates Glitter and Glue to her mother: “This one’s for you, Ma. Long overdue.” The title of the book alludes to one of her mother’s sayings; knowing that she was no match for her husband’s big, gregarious personality, Mary Corrigan often said, “Your father’s the glitter, but I’m the glue.” Glitter and Glue is a brisk and memorable read. The video below is a heart-strings puller as well.