Elizabeth Berg is the New York Times bestselling author of many novels, including We Are All Welcome Here, The Year of Pleasures, The Art of Mending, Say When, True to Form, Never Change, and Open House, which was an Oprah's 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 work, Escaping into the Open: The Art of Writing True. She lives in Chicago.
Thirteen-year-old Diana Dunn, wonderfully spirited and bursting to grow up, was born in an iron lung. Her fiercely determined mother, Paige, had contracted polio during her ninth month of pregnancy and was left paralyzed from the neck down. Abandoned by her husband, Paige (along with Peacie, Paige's daytime caregiver) raises Diana with loving pragmatism and a heavy burden of demands. Diana's participation in the care of her mother is crucial in keeping the fragile, not-quite-legal structure of the household under the radar of the well-meaning social worker in charge of Paige's case. Narrated by Diana, Berg's (Open House) latest novel of ordinary women made extraordinary by a steely nobility covers a lot of territory-the story is set in Tupelo, MS, during the explosive summer of 1964-and her signature gifts for depicting strong women and writing pointed dialog are as acute as ever. The surprise twist at the end, a what-the-heck, let's-wrap-this-up scenario, may leave even the most devoted fans suspending a great deal of disbelief. But this is still an Elizabeth Berg novel, so make room on your shelf.-Beth E. Andersen, Ann Arbor District Lib., MI Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
A polio victim and her 13-year-old daughter work miracles from their Tupelo, Miss., home during the summer of 1964 in Berg's latest carefully calibrated domestic drama (after The Year of Pleasures). Having contracted polio at 22 while pregnant, Paige Dunn delivers her baby from an iron lung, and ends up raising her daughter, Diana, alone after her husband divorces her. Able to move only her head, Paige requires round-the-clock nursing care that social services barely cover. Now 13, Diana has taken over the night shift to save them money, sharing her mother's care with no-nonsense African-American day worker Peacie, who is protective of Paige and unforgiving of Diana's adolescent yearning for freedom. Paige is a paragon of kindness and wisdom, even in the face of less-than-charitable charity by petty small-town residents, while Diana and Peacie consistently lock horns. But when Peacie's boyfriend, LaRue, ventures down the perilous path of helping register black voters during this Freedom Summer and trouble follows him, Diana will gain compassion thanks to her mother's selfless aid to LaRue and Peacie. As the novel (based on a true story) is set in Tupelo, the specter of Elvis Presley naturally intrudes, for an over-the-top, heartrending finale. Agent, Lisa Bankoff. (Apr.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Adult/High School-As a student nurse, Paige Dunn once took care of Elvis Presley's mother in Tupelo, MS. She contracted polio while pregnant with her daughter and is paralyzed from the neck down. Deserted by her husband and on welfare, Paige relies on Peacie, her black daytime caregiver, and on her daughter, Diana, now 13, for help at night. The teen is devoted to her beautiful, talented mother, yet at times is resentful that her mother's needs must come before her own. When the girl wins $2500 in a contest, Paige gives most of the money to Peacie for medical care for her boyfriend, who was badly beaten for participating in a civil rights demonstration. When their social worker learns that the money that would have provided for a nighttime caregiver has been used for other expenses, she demands that the situation be remedied. Diana writes to Elvis, enclosing a song her mother had written long ago, he responds with a visit to Paige, and suddenly their life is made infinitely easier. Full of humor, devoid of self-pity, with lively characters that rise above their circumstances, this is the story of an adolescent accepting adult responsibilities, encountering the temptations of boys and booze, and experiencing the tensions between race and class in the 1960s. -Molly Connally, Chantilly Regional Library, Fairfax County, VA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.