“Book Concierge said: 4****
Twelve-year-old Katie lives in a small house next to a Texas Army base parade field. Her mother has died. Her 18-year-old sister Diane doesn’t want to be bothered. Her Army colonel father is increasingly distant and demanding. She frequently takes refuge at her best friend Cherylanne’s home next door. Katie watches and compares her family and Cherylanne’s, and she waits – for breasts, for a boyfriend, for an end to math homework, for her father to stop beating her.
This was Berg’s debut novel and was named the 1993 American Library Association Best Book of the Year. The family has several serious issues and each member is left alone to process the grief over the loss of their mother / wife; Katie crawls under her bed to have conversations with her mother. Secretly she hopes this has all been a misunderstanding and that someday her mother will walk back into their lives. All is not grim, however; there is still joy and love in Katie’s life. Her relationship with 14-year-old Cherylanne rings true and reminded me of myself at that age – marveling at the intricate rituals that “ladies” followed when getting ready to go out, eager to try on the mantle of womanhood, nervous that I wouldn’t ever be as pretty or confident as my friend, secretly practicing how I’d talk to that boy who was so cute. I was Katie’s age during the 1960s timeframe of the novel (and growing up in Texas city with a major Army base), and I’m sure that contributed to my connecting with her, but her coming-of-age story should still resonate with most readers. I fell in love with Katie; she is a keen observer of life, appropriately introspective for her age, sensitive, resilient and courageous. Through her Berg explores the pain of grief, the struggle of growing up, and the power of forgiveness.
Berg is a popular author of women’s contemporary fiction. Most of her works are stand-alone novels, but there are two other novels following Katie into the future: Joy School and True to Form. I read the former several years ago, not realizing it was part of a series until I read TtF a couple of months ago. They are enjoyable even if read out of order, but I do think it would be best to read them in order so as to see Katie’s progress more clearly. She’s a wonderful character, and I would follow her story in yet another novel.”