After reading "The Middle Place", I too was stuck in the middle. My heart goes out to anyone diagnosed with cancer. I expected a story of courage and hope; though there was some offered (hence two stars). My primary feeling was one of dismay, sure I too was impressed by her honesty; however, it is soon overshadowed by her selfishness, she is so brazen, she fails to realize she should be embarrassed. This accompanied by "it's just not fair" and other whining was less than appealing. Of course, if the book was more aptly titled, "IT REALLY is All about ME!" or "Kelly Does Cancer" copies wouldn't have flown off the shelves.
With over 200 reviews, I'll go light on the synopsis. As others point out, the first half is devoted to Ms. Corrigan's childhood with great focus on her charismatic, popular father. It then segue ways into recounting her adult life as she faces breast cancer, her concern at leaving behind two young girls, and the added burden of dealing with her father's diagnosis of cancer and treatment. There is no question that this would be is overwhelming.
I was intrigued by the story having lost three dear friends to cancer. Two died in their early 30's leaving behind very young children. Shortly following the loss of my 32 yr. old neighbor, I watched the struggle and eventual loss a year later, of my woman I befriend, whom I nursed and stepped into the role of: preparing meals; laundry; cleaning; running errands; taking to doctor appointments; middle of the night calls; financial support; taking her children on excursions and even started a Christmas fund for her four (4) young children. She died a long, agonizing death at only 34 weighing 67 pounds having lost more than 150 pounds (this is what happens when you have no health insurance). I never once heard her complain even at the very worst. My third friend to die, battled cancer three times over a ten year period! Her body was riddled with of tumors throughout her body leaving her paralyzed and eventually unable to breathe (they too had no insurance and sold everything even their home, only to move to the worst area of town so they could attempt to pay medical bills). Yet, never once did she ever complain! In fact, she often thanked me for being there for her (which of course was heart breaking); she was one of the kindest person's I've ever had the pleasure to know. All handled their diagnosis quite differently than Ms. Corrigan. To be honest, none had the support system that Kelly did nor did they demand such attention and coddling. Yes, I realize my comparisons sound ugly, do I get points for being honest like others give Kelly? I am not saying anyone doesn't have the right to be frustrated and fearful but she demonstrates no compassion for others but her father.
I was appalled at her rudeness to certain fellow sufferers saying they were too negative or scary (my thought -they probably appreciated not needing to interact with her, an immature, whiner). I think her husband should be canonized by the Catholic Church for his tolerance. There is a scene when they are out to dinner with friends and she shouts down her friends for talking about their workout routine because she has cancer and can't take part. Later, she wonders aloud to her husband if her behavior was inappropriate to which he states that her friends need a taste of reality. So, everyone must stop enjoying life or talking only about her during her illness? I'm puzzled, why people walk on eggs for her? More importantly, why do people hang around someone so self-centered?
Should society admire such behavior? This is simply a reflection of American society today; we've become a nation of self-centered and demanding jerks. We've earned our reputation of being rude, demanding and arrogant. Frankly, I'd be embarrassed and ashamed to act out in such fashion.
Please consider that beyond the death's of my friends, I too face multiple, serious health issues, some of which I can't afford to treat; I have had 7 surgeries and I'm facing 4 more (most doctors refuse to operate due to heart and other health challenges; furthermore, I have had a brain tumor for 10 years). I've only told two friends that I even have these health issues. I don't need to use my health challenges to manipulate others for attention or sympathy. Everyone faces challenges, some have much bigger ones than others. The reality is few people want to be around you, if you are sick (subconsciously, I think they believe they will be stricken). In third world nations, this is daily life among the poor. I challenge you to query people with long-term health problems; most will say good friends become scarce, particularly during a crisis. This isn't all that usual. All three of my friends, I have mentioned earlier, spent their last days very lonely having gotten little or no support even from their church body (the last one was a Pastor's wife!).
If Ms. Corrigan didn't have a great sense of humor and a way to spin her misbehavior or already been published author; it is doubtful this would have published let alone made it to the best seller list. There was no mention of any personal epiphany's or promises to live life differently; nor was there mention of how Kelly's views or behavior improved. To my knowledge, she isn't concerned about others who face this terrible scourge. As she has gained notoriety, it is doubtful she has donated even a portion of her book proceeds to a worthy cause. What about using her spotlight to focus on being a spokesperson? How about starting an outreach programs to people to treatment? Or, starting a charity offering respite to caregivers, financial grants to those uninsured; but that would be totally out of character for her. When I read a biography, I want to conclude that my time was well invested by learning insights to improve personally; all I learned here is that narcissists never change.