Winner of the New England Book Award for Fiction
Katie, the narrator, has relocated to Missouri with her distant, occasionally abusive father, and she feels very much alone: her much-loved mother is dead; her new school is unaccepting of her; and her only friends fall far short of being ideal companions. When she accidentally falls through the ice while skating, she meets Jimmy. He is handsome, far older than she, and married, but she is entranced. As their relationship unfolds, so too does Katie's awareness of the pain and intensity first love can bring.
Beautifully written in Berg's irresistible voice, "Joy School" portrays the soaring happiness of real love, the deep despair one can feel when it goes unrequited, and the stubbornness of hope that will not let us let go. Here also is recognition that love can come in many forms and offer many different things. "Joy School" illuminates, too, how the things that hurt the most can sometimes teach us the lessons that really matter.
About "Durable Goods," Elizabeth Berg's first novel, Andre Dubus said, "Elizabeth Berg writes with humor and a big heart about resilience, loneliness, love and hope. And the transcendence that redeems." The same will be said of "Joy School," Elizabeth Berg's most luminous novel to date.
A] painfully accurate tale of first love Berg can conjure character with a minimum of words and a rainbow of nuance. The reader misses Katie as soon as the book ends. "Publishers Weekly," starred review