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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Unce Upon a Time There Was You

Once Upon a Time There Was You
Elizabeth Berg
Random House, 2011

Sharing nothing in common except their 16-year-old daughter, divorced parents John and Irene reconnect in the wake of a devastating tragedy and discover things about each other that they had not revealed during their marriage.

John and Irene each dote on their daughter, Sadie. John lives in Minnesota where he renovates old buildings. Irene and Sadie relocated to San Francisco after the divorce, where Irene works as a caterer and writes sad personal ads. Sadie is 18 and ready for college, but has a secret she is keeping from her parents: she is interested in a boy and has lied to her parents about a hiking trip in order to spend time with him. This is why Irene is not too worried when Sadie has not contacted her one night; she assumes she is out of cell phone range -- until too much time passes with no word from her, and then panic sets in. Sadie is officially missing.

Although the drama of a missing child would be enough for any story, this plot device is odd and out of place in this one. Our focus has been on the story of a marriage, John’s and Irene’s, and how it became damaged beyond mending. When the disappearance occurs, the reader is shocked out of the contemplative and emotional back-story of this couple and into a nightmare that belongs in some other story, some other book that is suspenseful and scary. Then, when Sadie is found and she makes decisions that shock her parents, we are thrust back into the dynamic of a family relationship again, only this time the parents must cope with a major life decision that Sadie makes, no doubt as a result of post-traumatic stress. Emotionally, this book takes the reader on a roller coaster of sorts, one of which we did not sign up for when we elected to read a book by this author. I like her other books much more than this one.


There are many other books written by Elizabeth Berg. Please check if you want to know more!

Other titles you may enjoy:

1022 Evergreen Place by Debbie Macomber (2010)
Neighbors Mary Jo Wyse and Mack McAfee feel their love grow as they work together to solve the mystery of what happened to the World War II soldier who wrote the letters that Mary Jo found, and to the girl he wrote to.

The Love Season by Erin Hildebrand (2006)
Journeying to Nantucket to visit with her new fiancĂ©’s family, Renata goes against her father's wishes to confront the truth about her mother's untimely death, an effort that brings her into the complicated life of her godmother, Marguerite.

Life without Summer by Lynne Reeves Griffin (2009)
A tale told in alternating voices follows the experiences of bereaved mother Tessa, who searches for answers after her four-year-old daughter is killed in a hit-and-run accident; and her grief counselor, Celia, whose efforts to help Tessa revive painful family memories.

1 comment:

  1. I am surprised to read that you didn't care for this book as much as her other books. I am a huge fan of Elizabeth Berg's, and look forward to reading her new novels each year when they are released. I promise to keep an open mind when reading this one!

    I enjoy your blog. I am a winter visitor and am so happy that Mesa allows us to get a library card while we are in town. We visit the library often - usually the first week we arrive in Mesa! I have been a lover of the library since I was a little girl!