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Tell Me More: Stories About the 12 Hardest Things I'm Learning to Say

Review

Tell Me More: Stories About the 12 Hardest Things I'm Learning to Say

Kelly Corrigan has written three memoirs, all of which are excellent. In this book of 12 essays, she tackles a subject that is universal: what to say and how to say it. Life can get pretty complicated, and we need to know how to sustain meaningful relationships, give encouragement when needed, stand up for oneself, admit uncertainty, express sympathy appropriately, and apologize without making things worse. The right words at the right time are key to all these situations and more.

Each of the 12 phrases, such as “I Was Wrong,” “I Don’t Know,” “Good Enough” and “No,” has become an entire chapter in which Kelly is both honest and funny.

We all, at one time or another, have put our foot in our mouth, sometimes all the way up to our knee. And once those well-meant but ill-advised words have been launched from our lips, there is no taking them back. Kelly has written a chapter called “I’m Sorry” that is quite helpful.

"Each of the 12 phrases, such as 'I Was Wrong,' 'I Don’t Know,' 'Good Enough' and 'No,' has become an entire chapter in which Kelly is both honest and funny."

We all have been asked to babysit a neighbor’s child at an inconvenient time, to work overtime when we are just plain exhausted, or to donate to a possibly worthy cause we never even heard of. Quite often we end up saying a very reluctant “yes” when we really want to say a bold “no.” Kelly introduces us to her mother, the Queen of No: no excuses, no explanations, just plain no. It’s pretty difficult to argue with a quiet yet emphatic “no.” A simple two-letter word can effectively shut the door to further discussion.

Kelly writes about the devastation she felt with the deaths of her beloved father and a dear friend. She introduces us to her bacon-loving, calm spouse Edward and their two teenage daughters. She talks about good intentions gone wrong and the emotional minefields that can and do happen in every family. She is brutally honest about her perceived shortcomings and wickedly funny. She gives concrete examples of how those 12 phrases help her navigate her daily life.

One day, when Kelly was treating herself to the rare luxury of a facial, the aesthetician drew her out and got her really talking. It wasn’t earth-shattering conversation, but Kelly was startled that the woman actually listened to what she had to say. It was an epiphany of sorts for Kelly that the phrase “tell me more” was like magic that opened the door of being truly heard and listened to --- a very rare thing in our culture. Not only that, but Kelly got some great advice about the best hairstyle for her. Bangs. Who knew?

Kelly eventually realizes that is it perfectly fine not to have all the answers. None of us know why bad things happen to good people, if it is easier to be a man or a woman, or if Nessie is real. But that is okay. In the end, like Kelly, we learn that, indeed, we really are “good enough.”

Reviewed by Carole Turner on January 18, 2018

Tell Me More: Stories About the 12 Hardest Things I'm Learning to Say
by Kelly Corrigan

  • Publication Date: January 9, 2018
  • Genres: Essays, Nonfiction, Personal Growth
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Random House
  • ISBN-10: 039958837X
  • ISBN-13: 9780399588372