The Art of Mending

The Art of Mending

by Elizabeth Berg

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Overview

It begins with the sudden revelation of astonishing secrets—secrets that have shaped the personalities and fates of three siblings, and now threaten to tear them apart. In renowned author Elizabeth Berg’s moving new novel, unearthed truths force one seemingly ordinary family to reexamine their disparate lives and to ask themselves: Is it too late to mend the hurts of the past?

Laura Bartone anticipates her annual family reunion in Minnesota with a mixture of excitement and wariness. Yet this year’s gathering will prove to be much more trying than either she or her siblings imagined. As soon as she arrives, Laura realizes that something is not right with her sister. Forever wrapped up in events of long ago, Caroline is the family’s restless black sheep. When Caroline confronts Laura and their brother, Steve, with devastating allegations about their mother, the three have a difficult time reconciling their varying experiences in the same house. But a sudden misfortune will lead them all to face the past, their own culpability, and their common need for love and forgiveness.

Readers have come to love Elizabeth Berg for the “lucent beauty of [her] prose, the verity of her insights, and the tenderness of her regard for her fellow human” (Booklist). In The Art of Mending, her most profound and emotionally satisfying novel to date, she confronts some of the deepest mysteries of life, as she explores how even the largest sins can be forgiven by the smallest gestures, and how grace can come to many through the trials of one.


From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345486486
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/28/2006
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 5.43(w) x 6.91(h) x 0.71(d)

About the Author

ELIZABETH BERG is the author of twelve previous novels, including the New York Times bestsellers Say When, True to Form, Never Change, and Open House (an Oprah Book Club selection in 2000). Durable Goods and Joy School were selected as ALA Best Books of the Year, and Talk Before Sleep was short-listed for the ABBY Award in 1996. The winner of the 1997 New England Booksellers Award for her body of work, Berg is also the author of a nonfiction book, Escaping into the Open: The Art of Writing True. She lives in Chicago.

Hometown:

Chicago, Illinois

Date of Birth:

December 2, 1948

Place of Birth:

St. Paul, Minnesota

Education:

Attended the University of Minnesota; St. Mary¿s College, A.A.S.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

This is the Minnesota state fair I remember most:

It was 1960, a Saturday morning when I was eleven years old, and I was the first one up. I had brought my mayonnaise jar stuffed with dollar bills and coins into the living room, spilled the money out onto the carpet, and then stepped over it to turn the television on to a low volume. I was going to watch The Three Stooges while I sorted my fortune.

I had just finished counting when my father came into the room. He was wearing a pair of trousers and a T-shirt and his battered old leather slippers speckled with paint the color of my bedroom walls. His blond crew cut was damp; you could see the glistening of water in it, making him look anointed, and he smelled of a citrusy aftershave. He was headed for the kitchen, where he would make coffee and bacon. This was his Saturday routine: He'd take a cup of coffee up to my mother in bed, prepared the way

she liked it, with an eighth of a cup of cream and three level teaspoons of sugar. Then she would come down in one of her silk robes and make pancakes to go with the bacon.

I always hoped she would wear her peach-colored robe. It was my favorite, for its generous yardage and elaborate ruffled trim. Seeing what my mother wore was always interesting to me, whether it was the three-quarter-sleeve blouses she wore with the collars up, or the full skirts, tightly belted, or the pastel-colored cashmere sweater sets, or one of her many bathing suits, works of art designed to showcase her spectacular figure. Those suits came complete with cunning little skirts and jackets to wear over them, and broad-brimmed sun hats trimmed with fabric bands in coordinating colors. Before she was married, my mother worked for several years for an upscale department store, parading beautiful clothes before rich men's wives. She inspired more sales than any other model before or after her; everyone wanted to look like her, though of course no one did. Think Grace Kelly with red hair and green eyes-that was my mother. But it wasn't just her model's training that made it so interesting to see what she wore, it was a quality inside herself. Charisma, my father said, but it seemed to me to be more than that. Other people had charisma. No one had what my mother did.

She had a large collection of jewelry, too; sometimes she allowed me to take one necklace at a time over to her bed, where I would lay it out and turn it this way and that, making it shine hard in the sunlight. "Are these real diamonds?" I once asked, and she said, "Why have them if they're not?"

That Saturday morning, my father saw me sitting on the floor and came over to survey my neat stack of dollar bills, my coins piled high. "How much have you got there?" he asked.

"Forty-seven dollars and eighty-three cents." I kept my smile tight to hold back my pride and stuck all my fingers between all my toes for the low pull of pleasure.

My father whistled between his teeth in a falling-bomb way I greatly admired and could not emulate despite hours of practice. He took his glasses off to polish them on the bottom of his T-shirt, then held them up for inspection: still dirty-he never managed to get them completely clear. "How'd you get that much?" He resettled his glasses on his face, pushing them up snug against his nose, a gesture I associated so strongly with him that I reflexively took issue with others doing it.

I said I'd been saving for a long time. I told him about the groceries I'd carried in for Mrs. Riley, "Mrs. Five Operations," my mother called her, for her incessant replaying of the laminectomies she'd endured. I'd pulled weeds for Muriel and Helen Lockerby, the two wild-haired old-lady sisters who lived around the corner. I'd babysat for little Rachel Thompson every Thursday after school while her mother went to run errands, and I'd occasionally walked their dog, an arthritic old German shepherd named Heintz, who seemed to me to grimace every time he lifted his leg. I'd made pot holders and sold them around the neighborhood-once, a man who answered the door in his bathrobe had bought my entire week's inventory, which made him in my eyes equally wonderful and weird. Also, though I did not tell my father this, I'd recently found a ten-dollar bill on the street, and I'd made no effort whatsoever to find the owner.

My father told me to wait for just a minute and disappeared. I sat immobile, my high spirits on hold, because I thought he was going to consult with my mother about how much I'd have to share with my eight-year-old sister, Caroline, who had saved little, and my seven-year-old brother, Steve, who had saved nothing at all. But that's not what happened. Instead, my father reappeared, holding his wallet. He took out a twenty-dollar bill and handed it to me. Mutely, I put it on the bottom of my pile, so no one would see. But I found out later that each of us kids had received the same gift.

I still remember what I brought home from the fair that day: a lantern that glowed Gatsby green in the dark, which I intended to take under the covers with me to read by; a bag of Tom Thumb doughnuts so redolent with the scent of cinnamon sugar it nearly levitated me; a poster of a brown mare and her foal, lying in a field full of daisies. The rest of the money I'd spent on rides and on chances to win something big on the midway. Over and over I tried, and over and over the carnies at the tacky wooden booths smiled and said, "Sorry. Want to try again?" They knew what I'd say. From the time I was quite small, I had about me a certain air of heedless determination.

When my funds were gone, I went to the blanket my parents had spread out near the edge of the fairgrounds. This was our meeting place, our refueling station-our family went to the fair once a year and stayed there all day. We kept a cooler filled with drinks and sandwiches and fruit, deli containers of various salads, Oreos and Chips Ahoy!-all this though we knew we would be gorging on fair food. There were also pillows and Band-Aids, suntan lotion and insect repellent, aspirin and a couple of Ace bandages. My parents took turns manning the station, sitting in a lawn chair and amusing themselves in their own way-my mother flipping through fashion magazines or crocheting, my father doing crossword puzzles or reading one of the historical tomes he so enjoyed. He tried often to interest us kids in history, saying it was invaluable for putting things into perspective. "You think something's really great?" he'd say. "A long time ago, there was something just as good or better. You think something's really bad? Look in the past-you'll find something worse. Think something can never happen again? Wrong! History repeats itself-that's what you can be sure of." But we, like most children, did not resonate much to things beyond the day at hand. History had nothing to do with us.

My father also liked people-watching-he could sit for hours and stare at all the fairgoers who passed by him and feel perfectly entertained. He just got a charge out of people, their frailties and foolishness as much as their more admirable characteristics. I remember once lying in bed and overhearing an argument between my parents. This was a rare thing; they almost never crossed each other. But that night my mother was yelling: "Is everything just fine with you, then?" After a moment, I heard him say simply, Yes, everything was. An accusatory silence followed. I rose up on one arm and leaned toward my parents' bedroom wall. I heard the ticking of my bedside clock; the movement of night air in the trees outside my window; then, finally, the even, comical sounds of my father snoring. I lay back down and fingered the buttons on my nightgown, and contemplated the disturbing possibility that my parents were not perfect.

On that day at the fair when I came back to the blanket, my mother was off with my brother and my sister was with a new neighbor her own age whom we'd brought along in the desperate hope that Caroline and she would become friends. My father was alone. I sat on the blanket beside his chair, and he gave my shoulder a little squeeze. Then he moved out of the chair to sit beside me. He looked at me for a long moment then asked, "How are you doing, Laura?"

I held my hands out, palms up. "I spent it all."

"Yes," he said. "But I meant, how are you doing in general? Is there . . . well, how's life treating you?"

I smiled. I thought he might be kidding. Sometimes he would ask me about politics in the same false and jocular way. "How about that Eisenhower?" he would say. And I would shrug and say, "I don't know." But his expression now was serious; he asked me again how I was, so I said, "Good, I guess." Then, feeling this was not enough, I described my excitement at finding out I'd be getting the teacher I wanted that year at school: Mrs. Lindemeyer, who was old as the hills, and an easy grader.

My father nodded. "So you're okay, then, are you? You're happy?" The question was odd to me-I didn't ever really think about whether or not I was happy-but I said yes. It seemed he was looking for something he couldn't name and I couldn't decipher, and the closest I could come to satisfying us both was for me to say I was fine; I was "happy." He returned to his chair, and we sat in uneasy silence until the others returned.

My brother, his mouth rimmed with red from a candy apple he'd just eaten, had spent all his money too. My sister had spent none. I remember being astounded at this; angry, too, that Caroline would be left with so much when I now had nothing. "How can you have fun if you don't even spend any money?" I asked her.

A pleated caramel-apple wrapper skittered by, and she captured it beneath her shoe. "I had fun."

I snorted. "How?"

She looked up at me, an irritating calmness in her eyes. "I watched." The new neighbor, Linda Carmichael, confirmed this: While Linda rose high up in the sky on the Ferris wheel, Caroline stood watching and waving from below.

"That's retarded," I said. I could tell Linda agreed with me, and I remember thinking that she and Caroline would never be friends; here was yet another opportunity Caroline had lost.

"You mind your own business, Laura," my mother said quietly. That's what she said when I told Caroline she was stupid not to eat the treats that were handed out at various classroom celebrations, too. Every time there was a party at school, Caroline ate nothing. No candy corn at Halloween, no message hearts on Valentine's Day, no red- and green-sprinkled spritz cookies at Christmas, no garishly decorated cupcakes brought in because someone in class was having a birthday. Instead, anything she ever got she tented with paper towels and then carefully carried home on the school bus. As soon as she walked in the door, she presented it to my mother and my mother ate it.

I never understood this about Caroline. Now I do. It's all clear now: the times Caroline, as a small child, lay in the hall outside the bathroom door while my mother bathed. The presents she later bought for her with babysitting money: barrettes, scarves, lipsticks. Paperback books and velvet roses. "Brownnoser!" I once whispered after she'd given my mother a bottle of dime-store perfume. Caroline ignored me; she sat at the kitchen table where I was doing homework and began pulling books and papers out of her schoolbag. She was in sixth grade then, and I in eighth. "Brownnoser!" I said again, out loud.

"Laura," my mother said, and I returned to my homework. There was a tiny smile on Caroline's face, and I kicked her under the table. She did not kick me back; rather, she moved away to another chair and straightened with pinched-nose efficiency a stack of notebook paper that did not need straightening. She cocked her head slightly to the left and the right as she did it. I hated it. I glared at her between narrowed lids; I believed I could feel heat coming from my eyeballs. All this was to no avail; Caroline looked at her schoolwork only.

Then came a gift I remember particularly well, something given to my mother by Caroline the Christmas she was sixteen. It was the last gift opened that year, and it was a framed photograph, an 8-by-10. My mother stared at it briefly, murmured a low thanks, and started to put the picture back in the box.

"What is it?" I said. "Let me see!" I snatched it away. The picture was of Caroline wearing one of my mother's slinky evening gowns, her hand on her hip. Caroline's auburn hair, the same color as my mother's, was styled in a twist like the one my mother always wore. Her makeup was heavily applied in a style exactly my mother's own, and she stared unsmilingly into the camera. It was chilling, the look on Caroline's face: the flat eyes, the hard line of mouth, the remove. I had never seen such a look. "What is this supposed to be?" I asked.

My brother took the photo from me and looked at it. He burst into laughter, the goofy adolescent-boy kind, and Caroline grabbed the picture from him and threw it onto the floor. "It isn't for you," she said. She turned to stare at my mother, who did not look back at her, and then left the room.

"Caroline!" my father called after her. "Come back here!" But she did not return. My father rose, as though to go after her. Then he saw the picture, and he sat back down.

This I understand now, too-as well as what my father meant that long-ago day at the fair, when what he was really asking was if I knew.

Excerpted from The Art of Mending by Elizabeth Berg Copyright© 2004 by Elizabeth Berg. Excerpted by permission of Random House, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Reading Group Guide

It begins with the sudden revelation of astonishing secrets—secrets that have shaped the personalities and fates of three siblings, and now threaten to tear them apart. In renowned author Elizabeth Berg’s moving new novel, unearthed truths force one seemingly ordinary family to reexamine their disparate lives and to ask themselves: Is it too late to mend the hurts of the past?

Laura Bartone anticipates her annual family reunion in Minnesota with a mixture of excitement and wariness. Yet this year’s gathering will prove to be much more trying than either she or her siblings imagined. As soon as she arrives, Laura realizes that something is not right with her sister. Forever wrapped up in events of long ago, Caroline is the family’s restless black sheep. When Caroline confronts Laura and their brother, Steve, with devastating allegations about their mother, the three have a difficult time reconciling their varying experiences in the same house. But a sudden misfortune will lead them all to face the past, their own culpability, and their common need for love and forgiveness.

Readers have come to love Elizabeth Berg for the “lucent beauty of [her] prose, the verity of her insights, and the tenderness of her regard for her fellow human” (Booklist). In The Art of Mending, her most profound and emotionally satisfying novel to date, she confronts some of the deepest mysteries of life, as she explores how even the largest sins can be forgiven by the smallest gestures, and how grace can come to many through the trials of one.


From the Hardcover edition.|

1. What do you think of the author’s choice to tell the story from Laura’s perspective? How does that affect the story’s structure and focus?

2. Is this Caroline ’s story or Laura’s story? Explain.

3. None of the characters in The Art of Mending are fully likable, and the story of Caroline ’s abuse leaves both the family and the reader divided. Who did you identify with most closely? Who did you believe? Who did you distrust?

4. The Art of Mending is a story that is shot through with longing and memory. How does the structure of the novel—a present-tense story intermittently broken up by Laura’s memories of the past—serve to advance the narrative?

5. Caroline most closely resembles her mother in physical appearance, but in some ways Laura is the most like her emotionally. How does the sisters’ relationship to each other mirror that of Caroline and her mother?

6. Laura’s personal journey drives this story forward. She can be both smaller and meaner than the average heroine, and yet she slowly grows as the story unfolds. How does the reader’s awareness of Laura’s foibles change the reader’s perception of and feelings about her?

7. Beyond the title of the book, how is Laura’s profession—quiltmaking—significant or symbolic?

8. Each sibling’s perception of their childhood is a little different. How does each one’s personality play into what he or she remembers about the past?

9. Throughout this story, Laura struggles with believing and disbelieving her sister and their mother. As a reader, did you find yourself going through the same struggle?

10. Why do you think Laura’s father decided not to tell Laura what happened?

11. Laura’s husband, Pete, changes her perspective on his parents, whom she has idolized as particularly loving and kind parents, by telling her the story of how his father would spank him and swear at him. Later, Laura wonders what part of her parents’ marriage she couldn’t see or understand: “I stood in my parents’ bedroom,thinking about what their life together was really like. I recalled various things we kids witnessed—the kisses hello and goodbye, the stereotypical sharing of household tasks—and I wondered about what we didn’t see.” How are our experiences shaped by our individual perception? Can “truth” ever really be discerned from memories that we know are not 100 percent foolproof?

12. Some researchers talk about families as social organisms that have a life outside of the individual’s experience. Do you think families have collective memories, or are a family’s memories just individual perceptions held together by emotional bonds? Explain.

13. Laura tells the reader that her sister’s decision to invite their mother to have a brownie and go shopping means that Caroline wants to start over. Did you read it that way? Did Caroline ’s shift from anger to forgiveness feel authentic to you?

14. How do the generational differences between Laura and her mother play out? How do you think the lack of choices women of a certain generation had in their personal lives have affected this family?

15. Caroline is a difficult person for her family to relate to and like. Late in The Art of Mending, Aunt Fran says to Laura, “And the other part, I must tell you, was Caroline herself. She was a difficult child. Surely you remember that! She remains difficult today; that woman cannot settle down inside herself. I love her, truly, but she is a tortured soul. It is not easy to be around her—not then, not now. You’ve had good luck with your children, Laura. I don’t know if you’ve ever thought about what it would be like to have a child like Caroline.” Do you agree with Aunt Fran that Caroline was born difficult, or do you think she was transformed into the difficult person she is by the circumstances of her relationship with her mother? As a reader, did you find yourself struggling to sympathize with Caroline? If so, how did that affect your understanding of the story?

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The Art of Mending 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 67 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Given the 5-star rating I awarded this book, it's obvious that I liked it, but I am also a fan of Elizabeth Berg. This book really spoke to me in odd ways. I continuously read that other fans were somewhat disappointed (some very) because the characters weren't likeable, that the father dying during a family reunion was implausible, and that the story should have been told through the victim's viewpoint rather than that of her sister's. I disagree on all points except the last and even then, it's a weak agreement. I liked all of the characters except for the brother, as I thought he was a self-absorbed, selfish, and rude large child. My opinion on the father dying during the family reunion is that it's definitely credible even if it did make the abuse allegations a cliche (since the story implied knowledge on his part). I think although it would seem more sensible to have the point of view come directly from the victimized sister, it was probably important to have it come from the older sister. She was a quiltmaker; the theme in her quilt creations are escape. What was she trying to get away from? This book certainly contained a story I identified with; I think other people may as well, whether admittedly or not. I highly recommend this book.
Allison_Hostman More than 1 year ago
I work in social services and this book gave me the opportunity, again, to think about families and mending relationships. This book would be a "good read" for all ages altho ... might be more appreciated by readers over 40.
Tl44 More than 1 year ago
I'm a huge fan of Elizabeth Berg's writing; however, this book fell slightly short of my expectations. The idea behind the story was good; it just wasn't executed in a fun, page-turning way. It moved along too slow, definitely not a nailbiting, can't-wait-to-see-how-it-ends book. I found it rather boring and the only reason I kept reading was because I always finish the book once I start.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I grew up in a family that was so much like this one that this book took my breath away. For someone who grew up as I did, Berg's characters were so accurate that I could give them names. I read one review where the reader thought the brother was shallow. I saw the depth of his pain and what he had to do to protect himself. My mother went to any length to keep her prescription drug addiction fed. Nearly every night, she would take seven to nine Noludars (sleeping pills) and then my brother and I would carry her to bed. She finally succeeded in killing herself after several tries. AND YET, we loved her. When my siblings and I gather together, we speak of her fondly. We might have shared the same experiences but our memories are vastly different. We have finally forgiven her but the trips that each of us took to get to that point differed greatly. Each person has to take these journeys alone and at their own pace. Each person has their own story. I saw hope at the end of Berg's book and I thank her.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The adult characters had no depth, it was impossible to engage with them. The childhood memories of the older sister were a hoot. And as a quilter, I fell in love with the description of the sewing room. These little snippets were enjoyable, too bad the main story and the characters were so flat. I would not have finished it if it had not been chosen by my book club.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Of most of Elizabeth Berg's work, this was disappointing as it didn't have the usual kick and humor like her other novels. Book is ok, but not great. I started and finished the book in one day; proof of light reading. If you're looking for a true Elizabeth Berg book, this is not of her usual reputation with a surprise/uplifting ending. In all honesty it loses the reader in the last 30 pages.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I had never read this author's work before and after reading this book, I will never read her work again. This book could have been so much better if she had went into the life of the mother and found out why she was the way she was and the abuse should have been touched on more intensely by using flashbacks from the victim's point of view. I really think the story should have been told by the victim (Caroline) and not the sister. The only reason I kept reading this book is because I thought it was going somewhere, but when I found out it wasn't going anywhere I wished I had set it aside and read another one of the books on my list.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Could have been a short story. Skip the book unless you can't find anything else to read. Not her best book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Not surprisingly, Elizabeth Berg's latest novel an honest look into a family's struggle to survive. Her characters read so true you might think they live next door. We feel Laura's confusion, frustration and anger when her family's past interupts her current life. A book you hate to put down and don't really want to end.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Now in her fifties, quilter Laura Bartone looks forward to the annual extended family gathering in Minnesota. Her husband Pete and their two children will accompany her as she gets together with her parents and her two siblings and their families. However, before they leave, her younger sister Caroline calls Laura to ask for some private time with her and their brother Steve.................................. When the siblings meet, Caroline explains that she is very depressed and considering a divorce. Laura thinks back to how as a child she used to abusively tease her sister, who always tried so hard to gain approval from their aloof mother, but failed. Caroline explains that she is getting professional help, but believes her melancholy stems from childhood abusive events that she buried. She asks her siblings if they can recall any cruelty from their parents, especially their mother towards her. At first in denial, Laura and Steve start recalling frightening horrendous incidents and other revelations surface, but whether that will help the depressed Caroline or make things worse for her and her now stunned siblings, only time will tell.................................. THE ART OF MENDING is an intriguing deep look at how adults cope or fail to muddle through childhood traumas. The story line is clearly a character study that enables the audience to see deep inside the three siblings, but is told from the lens of Caroline. Though the spouses and children seem so perfect (almost Stepford) so that they never negatively ¿impact¿ on the trio especially Caroline, fans of an insightful family drama will welcome Elizabeth berg¿s solid perceptive work...................................... Harriet Klausner
BHSLibrarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Quilt artist Laura takes her family to the annual family reunion at the state fair. Laura's sister Caroline insists upon discussing "what happened" when they were children. Laura finds herself questioning her memories and her love for her sister.
punxsygal on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a story of a family, and the inequities in the dynamics between family members. The family in the story has gathered for their annual reunion and visit to the Minnesota state fair. Everyone is planning on looking at the animals, riding the rides and gorging on junk food. But Laura Bartone¿s sister, Caroline, has other plans. She wants an evening alone with Laura and their brother Steve to discuss something. Tragedy strikes the family and Caroline¿s discussion consists of accusations against their mother. Each of the siblings must examine their own childhood as they knew it to reconcile the differences and mend the family. As always, Elizabeth Berg¿s prose flows and draws you into the story. She prefaces a number of the chapters with the description of a photo that Laura is examining in her quest for understanding her sister Caroline.
bnbookgirl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book was fabulous, loved the characters and the story
lauralkeet on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Laura Bartone, a 50-something married mother of two, returns to her hometown for an annual family gathering with her parents, brother, and sister. When Laura's younger sister Caroline asks for a meeting with Laura and their brother Steve, the reunion begins to take on a different tone from past events. Caroline surfaces emotional events from their childhood, which differ greatly from Laura and Steve's experiences. The Art of Mending explores family relationships; specifically, how children's views of past events affect their journey to adulthood, and the nature of adult parent-child relationships. Its title is a metaphor for healing, taken from a passage discussing the domestic pleasures of ironing and mending:...there's an art to mending: If you're careful, the repair can actually add to the beauty of the thing, because it is testimony to its worth (p. 14)Berg writes lovely descriptive prose. Yet while this book held promise, it did not live up to my expectations. The characters lacked depth, and none were particularly likeable. The plot was formulaic and predictable. Worst of all, this book was manipulative, blatantly tugging at the reader's heartstrings. I can do without that ...
readingfiend on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I always find something in Elizabeth Berg's books that I can relate too. In this book it was the three adult children dealing with their place in the family and the dynamics of their relationship as well as parental illness and death. Her books always draw me in and I'm sad to have them end.
kelawrence on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Predictable and boring. Wouldn't try another of her books based on this one.
WittyreaderLI on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is about a pretty dull family. I enjoyed it because I like Berg's writing style but overall, it was just okay.
malpower on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really liked this book. The honest portrayal of the family members and family dynamics - how as children we're so self-centered we don't notice what's going on around us, how casually cruel we can be to our siblings, how we can all have a very different experience/relationship with each other and our parents, and we often don't notice a thing until we're grown and perchance are able to look back and discuss these things with our brothers and sisters, or parents. I found many humerous and evocative moments, as well as moments when I felt so sad and sorry for the youngest sister. I also felt anxious to immediately apologize to my younger sister, now 57 years old, for the unkind teasing she received from my brother and me when we were growing up! Fortunately she wasn't traumatized for life!
stillwaters12 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My least favorite Elizabeth Berg book. Slow moving, under developed characters, weak ending.
debnance on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
When Elizabeth Berg strikes, she cutsdeep into your heart; sometimes she draws blood.This book drew blood. I deeply identified with the characters. AfterI finished the story, I felt like I understood misunderstood childrenbetter. I want to pass this on to misunderstood children; somehow, Ithink it helps.
CatieN on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a story about siblings and the different relationships they have with their parents and each other depending on birth order, personality, and many other things. I always enjoy Elizabeth Berg's books. The ending was somewhat abrupt after all the build-up, but it was still a good book.
lrobe190 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Returning home for a family reunion, Laura Bartone and her brother, Steve, are stunned by their sister's allegations of shocking behavior on the part of their mother, and must come to terms with the truth and lies within their family.Berg always instills strong emotions in her stories and this is no exception. Good story; provides food for thought about famiy relationships.
jellyish on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Well written book about family, abuse, forgiveness, death.
smallwonder56 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of the best novels for women who grew up in dysfunctional families. Growing up with a damaged mother is not an easy thing, and this book takes you through the emotional storm involved with dealing with such relationships, to the beginning of healing.I've been the "child who wasn't believed" in a dysfunctional family and this book is absolutely true in its depiction of family dynamics.
icecreamdays on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book. The relationships between the siblings was portrayed very realistically, particularly in the dialog. It was interesting to see the differences in memories of the siblings and how the memories all came together in the end. At the same time, the current family relationships and dynamics were explored, particularly the changing dynamics as the past came to light.