Durable Goods by Elizabeth Berg

Cover ImageFinished 3-28-09, rating 3.5/5, fiction, pub. 1993

She couldn’t do a whole sentence; it took too much air.  So she would say pieces like that.  Sometimes, even if you were loving her so much, your fists clenched and your heart feeling like it had a tight peel around it, you would get mad like that.

page 13 of the mass market paperback

Katie is a twelve year old Army brat living in Texas with her abusive father and her older sister.Her mother has recently died and Katie crawls under her bed to have conversations with her and even harbors a hope that it was all merely a misunderstanding and that one day she will walk through the front door.  Her best friend, Cherylanne, lives next door and is two years older, so Katie learns about kissing boys and sex and shaving her legs from her,  Their conversation about sex was pretty funny.

Katie is just  a girl trying to make her way in a world without a mother and a sister already halfway out the door.  She is every girl and it is easy to recognize yourself in her, of course, some things are scarier and more painful than others.  When she starts her period she thinks of it as a gift and is excited that she can now have a baby, something to call her own.  When her father tells them that they will have to move again she resists the idea because she would be moving to a place where her mother had never been.

This is a powerful coming of age story.  I read the second book about Katie, Joy School, first, and liked it better than this one.  I understand her father and her sister now that I’ve read this one, but I did not like the story as much.   I still recommend it,  as I do with anything Elizabeth Berg writes,