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Never Change by Elizabeth Berg




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In September 2000, we gave a highly recommended rating to Elizabeth Berg’s Open House. It’s a pleasure to repeat that rating for her latest novel, Never Change.

Protagonist Myra Lipinsky is a caregiver, a single nurse, who at age 51 spends her time with her patients and her dog. When her new patient turns out to be former high school classmate Chip Reardon, her life takes some major changes, which Berg presents with skill. Here’s a sample that explains the title. Myra is looking at her high school yearbook with Diann, Chip’s lover:

“I sit beside her, flip through the pictures until we come to Danny Roth. Diann leans in closer, inspects him. ‘Oh. Yes. Danny Roth.’
 ‘Right.’ I look at him again, and even after all this time, he seems so deeply familiar to me. One date.
 ‘He did have nice hair,’ Diann says.
 ‘Yeah. I wonder if he has any left.’
She turns to the very front of the book, and I feel a sudden urge to hand over the page, to hide the lack of autographs. I think I know what Diann’s yearbook looks lie – no room for any more messages, all the space filled by people congratulating her on being herself and congratulating themselves on being her friend, and telling her to ‘never change.’ As though it were a choice. As though one of our greatest lessons isn’t that change is the only constant. The seasons tell us, everything in organic life tells us, that there is no holding on; still, we try to do just that. Sometimes, though, we learn the kind of wisdom that celebrates the open hand. Then we know that letting go of everything is the only way to keep the things that matter most.”

Enjoy this fine book.

Steve Hopkins, June 21, 2001


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