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We Are All Welcome Here
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'Elizabeth Berg writes with humour and a big heart about resilience, loneliness, love and hope. And the transcendence that redeems.' Andre Dubus II

About the Author

Elizabeth Berg is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Never Change and Open House, which was an Oprah's Book Club selection in 2000. Joy School was selected as American Library Association Best Book of the Year. Elizabeth Berg won the 1997 New England Bookseller's Award for her novels. A former nurse, she lives in Chicago.

Reviews

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.

Based in truth, this book seems more like a fairy tale than Berg's normal fare creating a poignant and moving tale of regular people and their slightly offbeat lives. Paige Dunn contracts polio while pregnant and delivers her daughter Diana while in an iron lung. Told from 13-year-old Diana's perspective in 1964 Tupelo, MS, the story is about home life with divorced and handicapped Paige and her cranky caretaker, Peacie, and it is anything but calm and peaceful. Overall, it is a moving tale of the small joys of life, complete with a peek at the Civil Rights Movement. The Elvis Presley aspect of the work is a bit over the top, though, and helps make this more of a melodrama than a testament to a strong woman and her family and friends. The author's reading adds an extra dimension to a somewhat disappointing story. Berg's fans will enjoy it nonetheless; recommended for larger collections. Denise A. Garofalo, Astor Home for Children, Rhinebeck, NY Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

"Praise for Elizabeth Berg: 'Berg oozes warmth, wisdom and generosity of spirit. Her writing is quite brilliant, as soft as a kiss, as sharp as a knife. An American Maeve Binchy, a modern-day Jane Austen, whatever praise you heap on Elizabeth Berg, she probably deserves it.' Anna Maxted"
"Berg knows her characters intimately-she gets under their skin and leaves the reader with an indelible impression of lives challenged and changed.' The Seattle Times"
"Heartwrenching-Hilarious-Berg sits somewhere between Anne Tyler and Alice Hoffman.' Chicago Sun-Times"
"Maybe Freud didn't know the answer to what women want, but Elizabeth Berg certainly does.' USA Today"

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