Sunday 9 November 2014

Durable Goods

Finished November 6
Durable Goods by Elizabeth Berg, performed by Natalie Ross

This short novel follows 12-year-old Katie as she goes about her life on an army base in Texas. While the novel doesn't say specifically when it is set, it has got a feel of the 1950s or 1960s about it. Katie lives with her older sister Diane, 18, and her father. Katie's mother died from cancer some years ago. While her father always had a violent streak to him, it seems to have gotten worse since her mother's death. Both girls try to avoid situations that set him off, but they often can't predict what will do so. Katie often hides under her bed, having imaginary conversations with her mother to figure out things in her life. Katie also has a good friend, seemingly her only real friend, next door in a girl slightly older than her, Cherylanne. Cherylanne's mother also plays a motherly role in Katie's life, often having her over for dinner.
Diane, in her last year of high school, and with a long-term boyfriend Dickie Mack, is starting to push back. When the girls are told that they will be moving again, Diane states her intention to finish her final year, of which only a few weeks are left here in Texas, staying with another family. This results in an eruption of her father's rage, and a change in the family dynamic. When Katie discovers that Diane has plans to run for Mexico with her boyfriend, she feels the pull to leave as well.
A moving book of a family struggling with the loss of a mother, and looking for new ways to move forward. The issue of domestic violence that is present here, isn't really addressed, but that also fits with the time period the book is set in.


  1. I've enjoyed some of Berg's novels in the past. This sounds like a good one. Thanks for the review!

  2. I've always enjoyed her books too. This is an older book, but only recently released in audiobook format.