Book Reviews

Never Change by Elizabeth Berg

Never Change by Elizabeth Berg, Reviewed by Marlene Cullen

The magic of Elizabeth Berg’s writing is that she makes readers feel comfortable with her characters right away. In the first paragraph, she sets the tone, the scene, and introduces the main character, Myra, a person I like immediately. Berg’s writing style is friendly, warm and simple, yet oh-so-eloquent in conveying minute details, giving the reader a detailed vision of the scene.

Her characters are so believable that while I’m reading her books (and for a little while after), I think they are living in the next town. . . when I’m sleeping, they’re sleeping. During the day, they go about their errands and work, just as I do. I might even walk by them while they’re eating a meal in a cafe. I might brush against them in a coffee shop.

I admire Berg’s ability to create characters so different from one another, it’s hard to imagine all these characters are from one person’s imagination. Berg’s writing is a wonderful example of how to write characters that are not clichéd, as Becca Puglisi talks about in her Write Spot guest blog post.

Berg tackles difficult subjects with an honesty that is so compelling, I have a visceral reaction to her stories. In Never Change, the subject is death, illness, family dynamics and relationships.

In Never Change, we travel with Myra, a home nurse, as she visits her clients. We also travel with Myra on her personal journey. Written in first person point of view, we get to know Myra as a high school good-friend-but-never-asked-on-dates to becoming the home care nurse for her secret high school crush. Will they hookup? Tension builds as his disease progresses. Readers are privy to Myra’s perspective and Berg delivers the final scenes perfectly, with exquisite tension and timing. The tightwire question is “Will Myra carry out her plan?” Berg did not disappoint.

Perhaps this explains her ability to make us feel right at home with her characters and storied, from her website:
Elizabeth Berg“Welcome, welcome, welcome to my web site. I hope this space will offer you exactly what you’re looking for . . . you’ll find . . . Stories about one of my girlfriends or my dog, Homer, or my cat, Gracie, or my daughters or grandchildren or parents– or about someone I just happen to meet, perhaps even you! You’ll find, in short, things I might share with you if you were my friend. Because here’s what I know about most people who will frequent this site: if I met you, we probably would be friends.”

Marlene’s Musings: I have read thirteen of Berg’s books and I recommend all of them!

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