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20140209_510640.xml-book.glitter.0209Reviewed by Jax Kepple

Kelly Corrigan found herself as a young twenty-something in Australia with no money to get home after she and a friend blew it on a trip of a lifetime. Applying to job after job, she finally settles for a nanny job with a widower, John Tanner, who has two small children (not kids – “kids are goats,” as Kelly’s mother would say) and realizes that her mother Mary, despite Kelly’s perceived flaws of her, is a pretty great mom and Kelly understands why she acts and parents the way she did. Later, Kelly reflects on this time while she’s undergoing cancer treatment, faced with the possibility of leaving her two children without a mother, just like the Tanner family.

Glitter and Glue is more than a memoir. It’s the story of a daughter’s love and appreciation for her somewhat strict mother, and how she grows when faced with children who are missing that essential piece in their lives. Kelly gets on very well with the Tanners, including stepbrother Evan and father-in-law Pop, and adjusts very well to life as an Australian. She goes about her days watching soap operas and developing a small crush on Evan, while holding it together for still-grieving John and being a pseudo parent for the children. She wants daughter Milly to accept her, and lives for each time Milly expresses the slighted satisfaction with Kelly’s attempts to relate to her. Milly, in turn, clings to having someone she can come to with girl problems. Martin is the young brother who is full of love and goofiness and Kelly loves being around him. The whole family is brought to life years later, by Kelly’s love for them, and the reader can tell that this is a time in her life that she holds very close to her heart.

While Kelly is living the life of an Australian housewife, she keeps thinking of what her mother would do or say in each situation, and throughout the book, there are vignettes about her life with her family, including her flighty, always-looking-on-the-bright-side dad and two lacrosse-playing brothers. Her mother, Mary, is quite the character – brash and independent, fun yet strict. Kelly tags along when her mom goes on a girls-only beach trip with friends who call themselves the “Pigeons” which is fantastic. Mary is portrayed as a strict woman who has it all together, so it was especially sad when she was in the hospital for a simple cut that got infected and, when faced with possible amputation, is racked with fear. Then it was Kelly’s turn to nurture.

Corrigan’s writing is so gripping that the story flies by and tells the poignant tale of understanding, love and motherhood. As a somewhat bittersweet ending, you find out she hasn’t kept in touch with the Tanners, but the lessons she learned while living with them transcended her entire life and relationship with her mother and her children.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Jax is in an accountant at a hedge fund. She resides in NYC with her husband.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Ballantine Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.