After reading LIFT by Kelly Corrigan, I was seriously jonesing (does anyone say that anymore? I guess I do) to pick up her first book, THE MIDDLE PLACE. After last week’s book club selection, I wasted no time cracking it open and I am not sure I even put it down once I started.

THE MIDDLE PLACE tackles Corrigan’s battle with breast cancer as a 37 year old mother with two young girls and a doting husband. If that’s not enough, it’s during her course of chemotherapy and radiation that her first love, her adoring and delightful father, is diagnosed with cancer as well.

Dreary and teary, right? Wrong.

Well, a little teary. It is cancer we are talking about. But mostly it’s just a wonderful account of what it means to be a family, and specifically the relationship a daughter can have with her father. And that she, in turn, can create in her own life with her own husband and children.

George Corrigan is in a word, life. He’s exuberant and positive and Corrigan’s biggest fan. To read how she describes her father’s love and support of family, you can actually feel the love coming through the pages. And before this sounds hokey and corny and too good to be true, Corrigan is just so cool. She shoots straight and bares her soul in a way that your heart aches when she’s scared and you laugh as loudly as you expect her to in the many laugh-out-loud moments in the book.

And then there’s Edward, Corrigan’s husband. Edward is a great partner, and supportive husband committed to helping his wife through this disease and remaining a positive and united front with Corrigan as they work through her nausea, physical wear down and hair loss with Georgia (4) and Claire (2). While I certainly hope to never experience cancer, I would totally want an Edward on my team and by my side.

We often hear how important it is that we have positive relationships in our lives. That attitude is a significant contributor to our health and and well-being. It can even help ward off disease. And with a family like Corrigan’s, you can’t help but wonder if that’s true. The perspective they all bring to life’s obstacles–to face it head on and assume the best outcome–is refreshing. Corrigan actually sums this up in the very beginning of her book when describing her father:

“I think people like him because his default setting is open delight. He’s prepared to be wowed–by your humor, your smarts, your white smile, even your handshake–guaranteed, something you do is going to thrill him… People walk away from him feeling like they’re on their game, even if they suspect that he put them there.”

Imagine if we treated every person like they have something wonderful to bring to the table. No matter how small, it would be significant. We could see value in each person we encountered. While we all don’t have the opportunity to meet George Corrigan, as she recommends at the book’s beginning, Corrigan has done the next best thing in writing this love letter to her family and her father for all the world to read.

Rating: 5 stars
Pages: 288
Genre: Memoir