Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book


Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Elizabeth Berg  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Fiction

Audience: Adult;

Born: 1948 in St. Paul, Minnesota


-- Facebook -- https://www.facebook.com/bergbooks/
-- Website -- http://www.elizabeth-berg.net/
-- Elizabeth Berg on WorldCat -- http://www.worldcat.org/search?q=elizabeth+berg


Illinois Connection

Berg lives in Oak Park.

Biographical and Professional Information

Elizabeth Berg is the author of many bestselling novels as well as two works of nonfiction. She studied English at the University of Minnesota, and later ended up as a nurse. Her debut novel was published in 1993, and today she is a bestselling author. Her three novels ''Durable Goods'', ''Joy School'', and ''True to Form'' are a trilogy about the 12-year-old Katie Nash and are, in part, based on Berg's own experience as a daughter born into a military family.Berg has received several literary awards and nominations. Her writing has been translated into 27 languages and three of her novels have been turned into television movies. She is the founder of ''Writing Matters'', a quality reading series dedicated to serving author, audience, and community. She teaches one-day writing workshops and is a popular speaker at venues around the country.


Published Works Expand for more information


Titles At Your Library

Family Traditions: Celebrations for Holidays and Everyday
ISBN: 0895774569

Readers Digest. 1997

Presents a wide range of activities, traditions, ideas, and rituals that are designed to encourage families to share quality time together, including suggestions for the major holidays, seasonal celebrations, everyday customs, and more. 20,000 first printing.

Durable Goods: A Novel (Katie Nash)
ISBN: 081296814X

Ballantine Books. 2003

On the hot Texas army base she calls home, Katie spends the lazy days of her summer waiting: waiting to grow up waiting for Dickie Mack to fall in love with her waiting for her breasts to blossom waiting for the beatings to stop. Since their mother died, Katie and her older sister, Diane, have struggled to understand their increasingly distant, often violent father. While Diane escapes into the arms of her boyfriend, Katie hides in her room or escapes to her best friend’s house—until Katie’s admiration for her strong-willed sister leads her on an adventure that transforms her life.

Written with an unerring ability to capture the sadness of growth, the pain of change, the nearly visible vibrations that connect people, this beautiful novel by the bestselling author of Open House reminds us how wonderful—and wounding—a deeper understanding of life can be.

Talk Before Sleep: A Novel
ISBN: 0345491254

Ballantine Books. 2006

"Until that moment, I hadn't realized how much I'd been needing to meet someone I might be able to say everything to."

They met at a party. It was hate at first sight. Ruth was far too beautiful, too flamboyant. Not at all Ann's kind of person. Until a chance encounter in the bathroom led to an alliance of souls. Soon they were sharing hankies during the late showing of "Sophie's Choice," wolfing down sundaes sodden with whipped cream, telling truths of marriage, mortality, and love, secure in a kind of intimacy no man could ever know. Only best friends understand devil's food cake for breakfast when nothing else will do. After years of shared secrets, guilty pleasures, family life and divorce, they face a crisis that redefines the meaning of friendship and unconditional love.


From the Paperback edition.

Range of Motion: A Novel
ISBN: 042516876X

Berkley. 2000

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Story of Arthur Trulov and Night of Miracles comes “the love story of the year”*—an inspiring story of a woman at the limits of her faith and hope.

When a freak accident leaves her husband comatose, Lainey Bergman dutifully waits for him to awake, desperate not to lose hope. Through the invisible wall that separates them, she seeks to connect with him through kind whispers, messages of love, and reminders of their beautiful life together: their lovely children the smell of home cooking the feeling of his clothes.

But as she remains by his side, two incredible women remain by hers, sustaining her and giving her the courage and strength to carry on. From uncertainty to despair, Lainey and her friends navigate the most turbulent waters, affirming the unbreakable and essential nature of friendship, even in the face of some of life’s hardest moments.

*Detroit Free Press

The Pull of the Moon
ISBN: 0425176487

Berkley Books. 2000

Follow one woman’s inspiring journey in this heartwarming story by the New York Times bestselling author of The Story of Arthur Truluv and Night of Miracles.

How often have you wanted to drop everything and just go? Well, this is exactly what Nan does one day: gets into her car and drives across the country, letting go of her daily troubles and embarking on a trip of self-discovery.

For Nan, a mid-life crisis becomes a mid-life opportunity: an opportunity to put herself first. Through conversations with people she meets, letters to her husband, and her diary entries, Nan walks along a path of self-care, mindfulness, and positivity that can reawaken and lift her spirit, as well as transform herself into the woman she wants to be.

Joy School (Katie Nash)
ISBN: 0345423097

Ballantine Books. 1998

In this exquisite new novel by bestselling writer Elizabeth Berg, a young woman falls in love -- and learns how sorrow can lead to an understanding of joy.

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.


From the Hardcover edition.

What We Keep: A Novel (Ballantine Reader's Circle)
ISBN: 0345423291

Ballantine Books. 1999

Do you ever really know your mother, your daughter, the people in your family? In this rich and rewarding new novel by the beloved bestselling author of
Talk Before Sleep and The Pull of the Moon, a reunion between two sisters and their mother reveals how the secrets and complexities of the past have shaped the lives of the women in a family.

Ginny Young is on a plane, en route to see her mother, whom she hasn't seen or spoken to for thirty-five years. She thinks back to the summer of 1958, when she and her sister, Sharla, were young girls. At that time,a series of dramatic events--beginning with the arrival of a mysterious and sensual next-door neighbor--divided the family, separating the sisters from their mother. Moving back and forth in time between the girl she once was and the woman she's become, Ginny at last confronts painful choices that occur in almost any woman's life, and learns surprising truths about the people she thought she knew best.

Emotional honesty and a true understanding of people and relationships are combined in this moving and deeply satisfying new book by the novelist who
"writes with humor and a big heart about resilience, love and hope. And the transcendence that redeems" (Andre Dubus).


From the Hardcover edition.

Until the Real Thing Comes Along: A Novel (Ballantine Reader's Circle)
ISBN: 034543739X

Ballantine Books. 2000

Patty Murphy is facing that pivotal point in a woman's life when her biological clock ticks as insistently as a beating heart. Will she find Mr. Right and start a family? But Patty is in love--with a man who is not only attractive and financially sound, but sensitive and warmhearted. There's just one small problem: He is also gay.

Against her better judgment, and pleas from family and friends, Patty refuses to give up on Ethan. Every man she dates ultimately leaves her aching for the gentle comfort and intimacy she shares with him. But even as she throws eligible bachelors to the wayside to spend yet another platonic night with Ethan, Patty longs more and more for the consolation of loving and being loved. In the meantime she must content herself with waiting--until the real thing comes along. . . .

Escaping into the Open: The Art of Writing True
ISBN: 0060929294

HarpPeren. 2000

“Crystal clear, bracing as ice water, Escaping Into the Open should be read by all scribblers regardless of material success.”
—Rita Mae Brown

“This is a really good book.”
Booklist

Bestselling, award-winning novelist Elizabeth Berg knows a thing or two about writing, having graced the world with wonderful works of fiction including Talk Before Sleep, The Year of Pleasures, and the acclaimed Oprah Book Club Selection, Open House. With Escaping Into the Open, she offers an inspiring, eminently entertaining, and delightfully practical handbook on the joys, challenges, and creative possibilities inherent in the writing life. Now revised with new material—a classic in the vein of Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg and Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird—Elizabeth Berg’s Escaping Into the Open is an indispensable guide for any aspiring storyteller.

Open House
ISBN: 0099461269

Gardners Books. 2003

When Samantha Morrow's husband leaves her and her eleven-year-old son she is faced with the terrifying prospect of having to recreate her whole life. After a few faltering steps she starts to put the pieces into place. She opens her house to a series of lodgers who each in the eccentric way help her to see herself. She fends off her mother, whose idea of getting over a failed marriage is to get a pedicure and get out there dating. And she shakes a friend, King, an MIT graduate turned handyman, who shows her that she has the ability to make her own future and her own happiness...

Never Change
ISBN: 0743411331

Washington Square Press. 2002

A self-anointed spinster at fifty-one, Myra Lipinski is reasonably content with her quiet life, her dog, Frank, and her career as a visiting nurse. But everything changes when Chip Reardon, the golden boy she adored in high school, is assigned as her new patient. Choosing to forgo treatment for an incurable illness, Chip has returned to his New England hometown to spend what time he has left. Now, Myra and Chip find themselves engaged in a poignant redefinition of roles, and a complicated dance of memory, ambivalence, and longing.

Ordinary Life: Stories
ISBN: 0812968131

Random House. 2003

In this superb collection of short stories, Elizabeth Berg takes us into remarkable moments in the lives of women, when memories and events come together to create a sense of coherence, understanding, and change. In “Ordinary Life,” Mavis McPherson locks herself in the bathroom for a week, shutting out her husband and the realities of their life together—and, no, she isn’t contemplating a divorce. She just needs some time to think, to take stock of her life, and to arrive, finally, at a surprising conclusion.

In “White Dwarf” and “Martin’s Letter to Nan,” the secrets of a marriage are revealed with the sensitivity and “brilliant insights about the human condition” (Detroit Free Press) that have become a trademark of Berg’s writing. The Charlotte Observer has said, “Berg captures the way women think as well as any writer.” Those qualities of wisdom and insight are everywhere present in Ordinary Life.

True to Form: A Novel
ISBN: 0743411358

Washington Square Press. 2003

Katie Nash -- the beloved heroine of Elizabeth Berg's previous novels Durable Goods and Joy School -- is thirteen years old in 1961, and she's facing a summer full of conflict. Her father has enlisted her in two care-taking jobs -- baby-sitting for the rambunctious Wexler boys and, equally challenging, looking after Mrs. Randolph, her elderly, bedridden neighbor. To make matters worse, Katie has been forcibly inducted into the "loser" Girl Scout troop, compliments of her only new friend Cynthia's controlling mother. Her only saving grace is a trip to her childhood hometown in Texas, to visit her best friend Cherylanne. But people and places change -- and Cherylanne is no exception. When an act of betrayal leaves Katie wondering just what friends are really for, she learns to rely on the only one left she can trust: herself.
Full of the joys, anguish, and innocence of American adolescence, True to Form is a story sure to make readers remember and reflect on their own moments of discovery and self-definition.

Say When: A Novel
ISBN: 0743411374

Washington Square Press. 2004

When is a marriage worth saving and when is it best to let go? When do half-truths turn into full-blown lies? When does betrayal end and passion begin?
Say When is a compelling, complex novel that takes readers into the heart of a modern marriage where companionship and intimacy, and denial and pain, so often collide. "Of course he knew she was seeing someone," begins the story of Frank Griffin, a man who's willing to overlook his wife's infidelity -- he would let her have this, this thrilling little romance -- for the sake of keeping his family intact. But when the forty-year-old Ellen requests a divorce on the basis that she has finally found true, romantic love, Griffin must decide whether to fight or flee...or search elsewhere for the kind of life he always dreamed of.
With Elizabeth Berg's trademark blend of rare insight, raw emotion, and hard-won wisdom, Say When is a work of startling revelation that no reader will soon forget.

The Art of Mending: A Novel
ISBN: 034548648X

Ballantine Books. 2006

NATIONAL BESTSELLER • Revelations about a seemingly ordinary mother force her adult children to reexamine their lives in this “absorbing novel about family secrets” (The Dallas Morning News).

Laura Bartone anticipates her annual family reunion in Minnesota with a mixture of excitement and wariness. Yet this year’s gathering will prove to be much more trying than either she or her siblings imagined. As soon as she arrives, Laura realizes that something is not right with her sister. Forever wrapped up in events of long ago, Caroline is the family’s restless black sheep. When Caroline confronts Laura and their brother, Steve, with devastating allegations about their mother, the three have a difficult time reconciling their varying experiences in the same house. But a sudden misfortune will lead them all to face the past, their own culpability, and their common need for love and forgiveness.

Readers have come to love Elizabeth Berg for the “lucent beauty of [her] prose, the verity of her insights, and the tenderness of her regard for her fellow human” (Booklist). In The Art of Mending, she confronts some of the deepest mysteries of life, as she explores how even the largest sins can be forgiven by the smallest gestures, and how grace can come to many through the trials of one.

The Year of Pleasures
ISBN: 0812970993

Ballantine Books. 2006

In this rich and deeply satisfying novel by the beloved author of The Art of Mending, and Open House, a resilient woman embarks upon an unforgettable journey of adventure, self-discovery, and renewal.

Betta Nolan moves to a small town after the death of her husband to try to begin anew. Pursuing a dream of a different kind of life, she is determined to find pleasure in her simply daily routines. Among those who help her in both expected and unexpected ways are the ten-year-old boy next door, three wild women friends from her college days, a twenty-year-old who is struggling to find his place in the world, and a handsome man who is ready for love.

Elizabeth Berg's The Year of Pleasuresis about acknowledging the solace found in ordinary things: a warm bath, good food, the beauty of nature, music, friends, and art. "Berg writes with humor and a big heart about resilience, loneliness, love, and hope. And the transcendence that redeems," said Andre Dubus about Durable Goods. And the same could be said about The Year of Pleasures.


From the Hardcover edition.

The Handmaid and the Carpenter: A Novel
ISBN: 0345505913

Ballantine Books. 2008

This wonderful novel transports us to Nazareth in biblical times, where we meet Mary and Joseph–and understand them as never before: young, in love, and suddenly faced with an unexpected pregnancy. Aided by a great and abiding love, they endure challenges to their relationship as well as threats to their lives as they come to terms with the mysterious circumstances surrounding the birth of their child, Jesus. For Mary, the pregnancy is a divine miracle and a privilege. For Joseph, it is an ongoing test of his faith–in his wife as well as in his God. Exquisitely written and imbued with emotional truth and richness of detail, The Handmaid and the Carpenter explores lives touched profoundly by miracles large and small.


Praise for The Handmaid and the Carpenter

“The oldest story ever told becomes fresh, even modern. [Grade:] A.”
–Entertainment Weekly

“Poetic, reflective, and intricate . . . There is a crystalline humanity, a logical vulnerability in [Elizabeth] Berg’s imaginative interpretation [that] brings novel resplendence to a familiar story.”
–Booklist

“Sweetly lyrical and yet movingly realistic.”
–New York Daily News

“[Berg] movingly takes the story of the least ordinary couple in history, and by respectfully evoking the rhythms and rituals of
daily life, makes them more human, yet no less transcendent.”
–Richmond Times-Dispatch

“Imaginative and compelling.”
–Star Ledger

We Are All Welcome Here: A Novel
ISBN: 0812971000

Ballantine Books. 2007

Elizabeth Berg, bestselling author of The Art of Mending and The Year of Pleasures, has a rare talent for revealing her characters’ hearts and minds in a manner that makes us empathize completely. Her new novel, We Are All Welcome Here, features three women, each struggling against overwhelming odds for her own kind of freedom.

It is the summer of 1964. In Tupelo, Mississippi, the town of Elvis’s birth, tensions are mounting over civil-rights demonstrations occurring ever more frequently–and violently–across the state. But in Paige Dunn’s small, ramshackle house, there are more immediate concerns. Challenged by the effects of the polio she contracted during her last month of pregnancy, Paige is nonetheless determined to live as normal a life as possible and to raise her daughter, Diana, in the way she sees fit–with the support of her tough-talking black caregiver, Peacie.

Diana is trying in her own fashion to live a normal life. As a fourteen-year-old, she wants to make money for clothes and magazines, to slough off the authority of her mother and Peacie, to figure out the puzzle that is boys, and to escape the oppressiveness she sees everywhere in her small town. What she can never escape, however, is the way her life is markedly different from others’. Nor can she escape her ongoing responsibility to assist in caring for her mother. Paige Dunn is attractive, charming, intelligent, and lively, but her needs are great–and relentless.

As the summer unfolds, hate and adversity will visit this modest home. Despite the difficulties thrust upon them, each of the women will find her own path to independence, understanding, and peace. And Diana’s mother, so mightily compromised, will end up giving her daughter an extraordinary gift few parents could match.

Dream When You're Feeling Blue: A Novel
ISBN: 0345487540

Ballantine Books. 2008

New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Berg takes us to Chicago at the time of World War II in this wonderful story