‘What We Keep’ by Elizabeth Berg

What We KeepstarstarstarTwo sisters meet up with their mother who they have not seen or spoken with in 35 years. As Ginny Young crosses the country for a reluctant reunion, flashbacks of her youth bring up feelings long buried, exposing raw nerves. The tension for the reader mounts, wondering about what happened so long ago and how it might affect the sisters and their mother now.

Berg is a master at capturing a young girl’s view of the world, especially in her older novels and in the Durable Goods series. She writes very honestly, recognizably, and intimately about ordinary family relationships. Over the years, I’ve read almost all of her two dozen novels, picking up one every once in awhile for a nice comfort read. She has keen insight and her novels are so readable, yet not sentimental or predictable. In my opinion, her best ones are the short story collections (especially: The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted and Open House), and in general I’ve liked her older works better than the most recent. Although they are very different writers, both Elizabeth Berg and Alice Munro write about ordinary life and relationships, but it does occur to me that I find Berg much more approachable and uplifting than Munro.

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