Title: Durable Goods
Author: Elizabeth Berg
Genre: Historical Fiction/ Bildungsroman
Number of Pages: 224
Series: Katie Nash (#1)
I read The Pull of the Moon a couple of years ago and found it fairly dull, but I’m glad I decided to give this writer another chance. Durable Goods is narrated by twelve-year-old Katie Nash, who’s recently lost her mother and lives with her older sister and her dad on an army base in Texas. She moves around a lot so it’s hard to make friends, and her father has an explosive temper that sometimes escalates to physically abusing his daughters.
Like many children, Katie is obsessed with growing up and everything that entails; getting her period, getting breasts, getting boys to notice her beyond just being ‘Diane’s little sister.’ Katie has a somewhat naïve and innocent viewpoint yet she understands things about life that most of her peers don’t. This novel isn’t so much about plot, even though I certainly wouldn’t say nothing happens in it either. It’s about relationships (particularly of the familial variety) and the pain of growing up lonely.
I didn’t always find Katie’s narrative extremely plausible for a twelve-year-old, but I found her to be a very endearing character. I also liked the way Elizabeth Berg managed to make Katie and her sister Diane’s father a real bastard while still managing to make him morally grey.
You were never quite sure how he was going to react to things because there seemed to be moments where he was genuinely trying to be better. I’m definitely going to read all three of the novels about this character and I was glad they all take place within a year or two of the first book. I know I’d rather continue to read about Katie as she grows up than follow her years later when she’s an adult with a husband and children.
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