Book Review: Tell Me More by Kelly Corrigan
“There’s no one right way to feel bad, to want something you can’t have. And there’s no one right way to feel better.”
A couple of weeks ago, two of my coworkers and I went to see Jen Hatmaker and Kelly Corrigan at a speaking event. I’ve long been a huge fan of Jen’s, and have only heard great things about Kelly Corrigan. Her latest book, Tell Me More, has popped up frequently on blogs and bookstagram, so I had it on my TBR list. Luckily, I picked up a copy at the event and started reading it that weekend. Tell Me More is a collection of twelve stories about the hard things Corrigan has learned to say.
At the talk, she mentioned that Tell Me More came together after her father “Greenie” and her friend Liz both died. I loved this book so much; there were so many things that I found relatable even though I’m twenty years younger and don’t have kids yet. One of my favorite stories was her chapter on “I Don’t Know.” She talks about one of her oldest friend’s struggle with infertility, then finally adopting a little girl. How do you respond and offer sympathy to a dear friend going through this? Sometimes the best thing to say is I don’t know why this happened to you, but I’m here. Corrigan also talks about how at thirty-six, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Why it happened, no one knows; she wasn’t genetically predisposed to cancer, yet she still is diagnosed and immediately begins chemotherapy. Luckily, she is in remission now. Later on in the chapter, she talks about how she likes to think of herself as someone who can live with the complexity of life, being okay with unknown things: “There’s so much that you don’t know, you can’t know, you aren’t ever going to know.” I love that. It applies to everything, and it is a great reminder.
Corrigan’s chapter “No” was delightful. She talks about her parents, and how her introverted mother perfected saying no early on in the 1970s. She understood herself enough to know what she was capable of in social situations. As a fellow introvert, I appreciate this so much. I am also a people pleaser, which sometimes means I keep saying yes to things, when I really want to say no. And as Corrigan says, “Besides, no makes room for yes, and who doesn’t want more room for that?” The more things you say no to, the more room you have for things you really want to do. I know women typically get suckered into more things, especially moms of young children, so this chapter was timely for me to read as we prepare for our baby girl’s arrival in a few short months.
I think the chapter that moved me the most was “Onward.” It was a letter Kelly wrote to her friend Liz after Liz passed away. She talked about Liz’s kids and husband Andy and how they were coping after her death. I could tell how much Liz meant to Kelly, and how much her life impacted not only this book, but also Kelly’s family. I found myself laughing at some points, but mostly crying throughout this chapter. Corrigan included Andy’s eulogy from Liz’s memorial service and likened grief to the Apollo 13 mission. As I am a sucker for the Tom Hanks movie, I was familiar with the metaphor. It truly was a beautiful way to describe grief, and I loved it. This letter really struck a chord with me, and it beautifully encapsulated Kelly’s love and grief for her friend Liz.
Since this was my first time reading Kelly Corrigan, I didn’t really know what to expect. But after hearing she and Jen speak, I already knew I would love this book. I just didn’t expect to love it as much as I did. I laughed, I cried, I had so many emotions reading this book. I cannot recommend Tell Me More enough. I’ve already requested Glitter and Glue, one of Corrigan’s previous memoirs, from the library. I absolutely loved this book and give it 5 stars.
What are some of your favorite memoirs or essay collections?