cover image The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted: And Other Small Acts of Liberation

The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted: And Other Small Acts of Liberation

Elizabeth Berg, . . Random, $23 (242pp) ISBN 978-1-4000-6509-7

In this collection of mostly uplifting stories, Berg (Dream When You’re Feeling Blue ) explores the everyday challenges that women face. Whether teenaged or octogenarian, Berg’s heroines brave the emotional landmines underlying domestic scenes (from holiday dinner parties to visiting family), navigate the slippery slope of constant dieting and address the process of aging. The title story features an unnamed, insouciant narrator who flees from a Weight Watchers meeting and allows herself to indulge her most fattening food cravings. In “Full Count,” an introspective army brat begins to decipher what she looks like to others. The wistful and nostalgic “Rain” features a woman reminiscing about a good friend who dropped his successful corporate life to live closer to nature. Berg’s men are surprisingly supportive and well behaved; it is often the women in these stories who manipulate and mistreat their partners. The protagonist of “Truth or Dare,” for example, struggles to accept that her ex-husband moved on after she left him. Berg has a knack for sentimental but authentic stories about women who find affirmation in true-to-life situations, and if her endings are slightly predictable, it’s in a good way, like comfort food that never disappoints. (Apr.)