Author: Kelly Corrigan
Release Date: March 2, 2010
Publisher: Voice (Print) / Random House Audio (Audio)
Rating: 4 out of 5
“I want to put down on paper how things started with us,” Kelly Corrigan writes in this love letter to her two daughters. She focuses on both the joys and sorrows of parenting, trying to somehow convey the impossible depth and breadth of her love for her children. Weaving in anecdotes and stories from her own life and the lives of those close to her, Corrigan uses her own experiences to deliver her thoughts on what it is to be a parent.
Lift is a slip of a memoir that is, above all, an attempt to convey in words that amorphous thing called parenting. Corrigan wants to tell her children how much she loves them, how much she wants to give them a happy childhood, but also how much they scare her. In her well known memoir The Middle Place, Corrigan recounts her experiences with Stage 3 breast cancer, so it’s understandable that she would want something permanent for her children, a remembrance of how truly she loved them.
I’m not a parent, and in fact I still have some ambivalence about whether I truly want children, so I’m honestly not sure why I picked this book up. But once I started it, I was hooked. Corrigan writes beautifully and honestly about her love for her daughters. Sometimes the placement of certain lines is surely manipulative, designed to make the reader choke back tears, but it’s disguised well enough (at least in the audio version). I loved the idea of this book, of Corrigan trying to convey just how much mothers love their children, and how difficult it can be.
I read Lift in audio, and the production is unabridged and runs about an hour and a half. (I’m not going to lie, the fact that it’s short is a big reason I chose to pick it up). The narrator is the author herself, Kelly Corrigan, and this both worked and didn’t for me. It worked because it’s natural the author would want to narrate such a personal book. The fact that it’s her meditations on her love for her children, and was originally written as a letter to them – it would be strange to have anyone but the author read it. But Corrigan doesn’t have the easiest voice to listen to. She isn’t a bad narrator by any means, but her voice has a certain emotionless, flat quality (not to say that she is flat or emotionless – just that her voice is) that doesn’t really jive with the deep feelings of the book.
I think Lift would make an excellent gift for anyone with young children; I expect this made a very popular mother’s day gift this year. If you’re childless but considering having a kid, the deep, unflinching emotion that Corrigan portrays will scare you, but also likely appeal to you. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend the book to others in my position, but then again, I’m not the target audience for this book. Overall, I enjoyed Lift and look forward to reading some of Corrigan’s other memoirs.