Tell Me More by Kelly Corrigan – Book Review

Tell Me More: Stories About the 12 Hardest Things I’m Learning to Say is a book by Kelly Corrigan. When we meet Kelly, she introduces her distracted husband and 2 daughters, and we learn that her father recently died. We later learned that Kelly had recently lost a close friend, Liz. In the 12 chapters of the book, Kelly shares her struggles and that of her friends and family members to help make sense of the world, identity and human relationships. We learn the 12 hardest things that she is learning to say.

I didn’t track which chapter had which lessons, but she shares:

  • the futility of resistance instead of accepting things as they are
  • everyone has the same type of problems and she is not a “special person with Special People Problems”
  • “it’s like this” is a great mantra for being in the moment and accepting life
  • teenagers have interesting and relatable problems and you can connect to the emotion of the situation if not its particulars

Solving Georgia’s problem, which had seemed so generous, was both unlikely and ran the risk of demoralizing her. Empathy was the tonic.

  • people can get tired and request a break from your problems; that does not mean that they don’t care
  • saying no is important for taking care of yourself, but even though (or because?) her mother is a pro at no, Kelly hasn’t mastered it
  • some decisions are so big that you can’t compromise on them or expect the other party to acquiesce
  • loving someone also means loving the people that they love and doing good by them
  • making mistakes don’t make you bad:

Maybe being wrong is not the same as being bad, I thought, not a sign that your insides were rotten. Maybe you can still be a decent-ish person, a person with a personal mission statement, a person who aspires to be someone habitually good and highly effective…

  • You can learn to believe in yourself from the people around you. Let them lift you up.

That’s how it works: someone important believes in us, loudly and with conviction and against all substantiation, and over time, we begin to believe, too, not in our shot at perfection, mind you, but in the good enough version of us that they have reflected.

  • Forgiveness is crucial for a healthy relationship.

I believe this emotional largesse is sometimes called forgiveness. Immediate, often unsolicited, sometimes undeserved forgiveness—that is what turns the wheel of family life.

  • You can communicate without words, with closeness in silence.

This book has grief and pain, tempered by love and the fullness of life. Grief is familiar to me, and I could relate to many of the themes in the book. You likely will too. Read Tell Me More by Kelly Corrigan if you enjoy reading memoirs and finding the common elements that bind our lives, even though our particular experiences may be vastly different.