Book Review: Glitter and Glue

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“It’s not until after I put her to bed that night that I can bring myself to think about my mother and the reams of things she did for me that could and should have softened me. What is it about a living mother that makes her so hard to see, to feel, to want, to love, to like? What a colossal waste that we can only fully appreciate certain riches – clean clothes, hot showers, good health, mothers – in their absence.”

Did you tear up reading this profound quote from Kelly Corrigan’s memoir Glitter and Glue? I did. And it wasn’t the first—or the last—time while reading this beautifully penned coming of age book that delves deeply into the mother daughter relationship as well as what really matters at the core of the people we meet.

Corrigan’s Glitter and Glue dissects a turning point in her life at the heel of what she thought this point was going to be. Corrigan sets off for her Big Adventure to Australia, where she was to become a—and meet many—Very Important Person.

But instead, she ran out of money and found herself on an adventure hiatus nannying for the Tanner family whose mother died of cancer. For the first time in Corrigan’s young life she played the mother role and in doing so, saw her own mother in a different light. The quote above is where Corrigan realizes that there are different ways to be Important.

Corrigan’s memoir takes you by the hand and—gently, poignantly—reminds the reader that there’s a difference between travel and life experience, stepping out and stepping up, fathers and mothers, and whom you admire, why, and how this changes over time.

The title comes from something Corrigan’s mother used to say in her youth, “Your father might be the glitter, but I’m the glue.” It’s easy to love and admire and want to be around the glitter, isn’t it? But the glue is what Corrigan not only craved when she struggled (on her travels and, later, as an adult and a mother) but also what she became.

At the end of Corrigan’s time with the Tanners she says a tearful goodbye to all of their family members, including her crush, Evan, the kids’ stepbrother who has stayed on at the Tanner household to Be There, to Show Up. Tearfully, she says, “People need you. You’re… important. You’re probably the most important person I’ve ever met.”… This was one for the books I think. You are one for the books.”

That was another tearjerker for me. The lessons woven in this book are so stick-to-your-ribs Important; I’ve still thought about them weeks after I turned the last page, which makes Glitter and Glue a must-read memoir in my books.

You can learn more about Corrigan, her other books, and Glitter and Glue on her website. But for now, I just have to ask–Are you more the glitter or the glue? What about your mother?

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