Durable Goods

Elizabeth Berg, Author Random House (NY) $17 (192p) ISBN 978-0-679-42208-2
In Berg's understated and promising fiction debut, a 12-year-old ``army brat'' comes to epitomize the quality that her father prizes: emotional durability. Narrator Katie lives on a Texas Army base with her 18-year-old sister and volatile father, an officer of unidentified rank. The girls' mother has died of cancer, although Katie never discusses how much time has passed since the loss. Accustomed to a military lifestyle, suspecting that her home will be only a temporary one, Katie leads a fairly ordinary existence. She and her best friend go swimming, talk about puberty and meet boys. When the inevitable happens and the family learns they're being transferred to Missouri, Katie tries to accept the impending change, but her sister, who can no longer tolerate her father's abuse, rebels. Direct, matter-of-fact sentences convey resilient Katie's point of view; the absence of a maternal figure is acutely felt, particularly in the vulnerable but violent father's frightening temper. Overall, however, this subdued tale of a troubled family is more modest than memorable, insinuating rather than fully examining its characters' motives. Author tour. (May)
Reviewed on: 03/29/1993
Release date: 04/01/1993
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 90 pages - 978-0-307-76339-6
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Mass Market Paperbound - 958 pages - 978-0-380-72884-8
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