Kelly Corrigan is no stranger to mining the depths of her heart. Her best-selling 2008 memoir, The Middle Place
, was a love letter to her gregarious, exuberant, larger-than-life father; her 2010 effort, Lift
, poignantly excavated her role as the mother of two young girls. Now, in her third memoir, Glitter and Glue
(Ballantine), Corrigan turns the microscope on her relationship with her own mother, Mary, who didn't believe in coddling, who viewed motherhood "less as a joy to be relished than as a job to be done." In Corrigan's retelling, life with Mary was one bristling conflict after another, marked by more than the usual middle school embarrassment and teenage angst. In 1992, armed with a backpack and a postcollege anything-is-possible attitude, Corrigan and a friend travel to Australia in hopes of seeing the world and "becom[ing] interesting." When their funds dwindle, Corrigan finds a short-term job as a nanny to two children whose mother recently succumbed to cancer. Evidence of their loss is everywhere, from the folded red wool blanket on the couch to the handwritten notes on a recipe for minestrone. At first Corrigan has no idea how to proceed amid such loss. Gradually, though, while making Vegemite sandwiches for the children's lunches or reading them stories at night, she begins to hear her own mother's voice—guiding, chiding, or uttering one of her oft-repeated phrases. And through her own experience of caring for children, she begins, for the first time, to appreciate the complex woman who raised her. Or, as Corrigan recalls her saying, "Your father's the glitter, but I'm the glue."