by Elizabeth Berg
Elizabeth Berg's first novel, Durable Goods, is a touching coming of iage story that will engage all.
The narrator, twelve-year-old Katie, is precocious and observant. She confides in her readers, relating her story with complete honesty and a certain astuteness of which she does not even seem aware. After her mother dies, Katie lives on a Texas army base with an abusive, enigmatic father and an older sister, Diane.
Katie wants nothing more than to grow up. She spends her days with an older friend, Cherylanne, who gives her beauty tips and answers her questions about boys and dating. She tags along with Diane and her boyfriend Dickie Mac, wishing all the time that Dickie would fall in love with her and take her away in his old pick-up truck. In her home, Katie is always on guard, trying to avoid her father's outbursts and appease his flaring temper.
Finally, she is forced to make a choice that will impact the rest of her life.
Durable Goods, will appeal to those who have enjoyed A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, The Diary of Anne Frank, or That Night. It is also a "must read" for anyone studying creative writing. There are only five core characters in the novel, and each is so fully developed that he or she could practically walk off the page. The plot is conveyed through a series of tightly written scenes and flashbacks that are strung neatly together by Katie's commentary. Berg's writing style is ingenious. She maintains the twelve-year-old tone so well, using short sentences and a consistent voice, that every moment in the novel is believable. .
Review by C. R., Milton, MA
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.