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Joy School [Paperback]

Elizabeth Berg
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
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Book Description

March 24 1998 Ballantine Reader's Circle
In this exquisite new novel by bestselling writer Elizabeth Berg, a young woman falls in love -- and learns how sorrow can lead to an understanding of joy.

Katie, the narrator, has relocated to Missouri with her distant, occasionally abusive father, and she feels very much alone: her much-loved mother is dead; her new school is unaccepting of her; and her only friends fall far short of being ideal companions. When she accidentally falls through the ice while skating, she meets Jimmy. He is handsome, far older than she, and married, but she is entranced. As their relationship unfolds, so too does Katie's awareness of the pain and intensity first love can bring.

Beautifully written in Berg's irresistible voice, Joy School portrays the soaring happiness of real love, the deep despair one can feel when it goes unrequited, and the stubbornness of hope that will not let us let go. Here also is recognition that love can come in many forms and offer many different things. Joy School illuminates, too, how the things that hurt the most can sometimes teach us the lessons that really matter.

About Durable Goods, Elizabeth Berg's first novel, Andre Dubus said, "Elizabeth Berg writes with humor and a big heart about resilience, loneliness, love and hope. And the transcendence that redeems." The same will be said of Joy School, Elizabeth Berg's most luminous novel to date.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Product Description

From Amazon

Elizabeth Berg's previous novels about the feminine experience in its various stages of girlhood, adolescence, and adulthood have won her a loyal following for their emotional accuracy and powerful voices. In Joy School, Berg's newest book, young Katie's first experience of intense romantic love--with a much older man--becomes not just a crucible for the lessons of love in its various guises, but a rite of passage. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From School Library Journal

A 13-year-old girl falls in love with a 21-year-old garage mechanic who saves her life. From this unrequited love and other sorrows, she learns about the joys of life.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Joy School by Elizabeth Berg May 12 2004
By A Customer
"Joy School", written by Elizabeth Berg, is a heartfelt and captivating story for the teen and adult audience. It explores the adolescent life of a thirteen-year-old girl, Katie, and her many adventures and transitions in life. Previously living in a small, hot, Texan town near a military base, Katie makes the very difficult move to Missouri where her new neighbors find pleasure in tormenting her with cruel, hand-written notes propped outside her window on her bushes. At school, Katie is a social outcast and with her older sister Diane no longer living at home, the somewhat recent death of her mother, and the fact that her stern militia father understands very little about women, she seeks comfort and feminine influence in her housekeeper--Ginger. Katie's few friends at school include an overly obsessive misfit named Cynthia and a stunningly beautiful rebel named Taylor; both holding many of Katie's secrets, loves, and lies. Elizabeth Berg explores the different sides and traits of Katie using the two very different friends. Cynthia brings out the child in Katie at times and helps preserve her innocence, where as Taylor shows her how to find thrills in dangerous and exciting things; such as shoplifting and meeting boys. But, Katie has her own unique interests, too; including the 23-year old, gorgeously handsome gas station owner who just so happens to be married. Although age is a large factor in many relationships, it is not for Katie who has fallen completely head-over-heals in love. Katie must learn to move on and that a broken heart can be mended in this hilarious and unbelievably realistic tale of heartbreak and growing up.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Complete Joy! July 26 2003
Format:Audio Cassette
What a delight reliving age 13 again!
I was like yea, I remember being like that. I remember feeling those unbelievably deep emotions. I remember loving an older boy who did not love me back. And yea, I knew beautiful girls like Taylor and hated their guts!
Katie's voice is delicious. She is trying to come to terms with moving to a new state, changes taking place in her body and mind, her own individuality, her first crush...
'He is the most beautiful boy, a Paul Newman look-a-like. I will NEVER love anybody like him as long as I live!' (been there)
Berg gives Katie insight. We hear her 13 year old thoughts, dreams, and her hilarious observations.
She says about one of her teachers...
"He gives some idiotic assignment,which he probably doesn't even know, then sits there reading a newspaper for the entire hour. He gets paid for this?!"
Berg, once again, captures the 13 year old voice we remember.
(Been there, done that!) We adore her for taking us back in time.
The only thing that makes this book better is the Reader, Jen Talor. She is simply superb and Elizabeth should have her read all of her books!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely wonderful! May 29 2003
The second in the trilogy about young Katie, daughter of a distant, sometimes kind of abusive, Army father, this book begins where "Durable Goods" left off -- Katie and her father are moving to a new town (in Missouri) and Katie's sister has run off to Mexico with her boyfriend to get away from her dad and his totalitarian rule over their family. Katie isn't too happy with her new school, where she is having trouble making solid friends, or with her new neighbors, who keep putting mean notes in the bush outside her window. And she struggles with the confusion of puberty and the fact her sister left her right when she needed her most. But when she accidentally falls through the ice while skating by herself, she meets Jimmy and immediately falls in love with him. He's much too old for her, and also married, but she is entranced. As their relationship unfolds, so too does Katie's awareness of the pain and intensity first love can bring. Especially when that first love is unrequited.
This is another wonderful exploration of what it means to be a girl growing up without a mother and raised by a father who just doesn't really understand. Berg is a beautiful writer and her characters spring to life with a single sentence, a single thought, a single motion. All three books in this series are really short (about 200 small pages), but they are jam-packed with intensity, hilarity, and agony. I highly recommend the full set to anybody who loves coming-of-age novels.
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Underneath actions and feeling, there is a truth which Elizabeth Berg seems to grasp so easily. It's so honest. If I were in Katie's place, I know I would have done the same things she did.
The characters are so familiar, and there's one of them in every town. I know I can name a person with the same personality as the characters in this book. Can you?
-Katie, the heroine. No, she does not go arund saving people and being Wonderwoman, but she does save herself from some dangerous situations, which to me makes her a heroine. She the type of person we all hope we are.
- Cherylanne was Katie's best friend before she moved. Cherylanne is 2 years older then Katie (who's 12)and is the popular girl who we all secretly envy. You can sense Cherylanne's character easily even though their only communication is through letters.
-Jimmy is Katie's dream man. Yes, man, not boy. Katie is ice skating one day and she slips through thin ice, and this man named Jimmy who is the manager of a garage station saves her. She falls instantly in love with him. He's handsome, and is so friendly to her. The problem is: he's 23, she's 12, almost 13 (she tells him she's 15, though)and he happens to be married and have a 5 year old son. They're not a perfect couple.
-Cynthia, Katie's first friend in her new town. She's one of those people that you are only friends with because you don't have anyone else. She's 12 also, but acts way younger. On their first playdate, they play the Barbie game. She's temporary, Katie hopes.
-Katie's mom is... dead.
-Katie's dad isn't all that friendly. He never talks, is very distant, and has been since her mom's death. The relationship between them is disturbing.
-One last character. Taylor Sinn. They say no one's perfect.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully Written, Good Story
The voice of the main character of this novel is compelling, funny and easy to relate to. Although this may be subjective, this novel was an easy read for me - full of humor,... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Tara
5.0 out of 5 stars Joy -- In Unexpected Places...
"Young as I am, I know now that everything is about to come. Jimmy will be the place for me to learn the real happiness. He will be my Joy School. My joy. Mine. Read more
Published on Dec 13 2008 by Laurel-Rain Snow
3.0 out of 5 stars High Hopes For This One
I've been wanting to read this for over a year now. Not sure what I was expecting, but it just wasn't "there". Read more
Published on May 9 2004 by Leigh A. Taft
2.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as I hoped
I absolutely love Elizabeth Berg and started to fall in love when I first read her novel "Open House". I was soooo excited to finally read "joy school". Read more
Published on Jan. 8 2004 by dicey23
4.0 out of 5 stars Absorbing, entertaining, thoughtful
I enjoyed this book. I hesitated buying it for quite a while and once i began reading, I couldn't imagine why. The narrator is so enjoyable, you just can't get enough of her. Read more
Published on June 20 2003 by Alicia Walker
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely Reading
Joy School has a wonderful flow and explores themes of losses, loves, and friendships of different kinds. Read more
Published on May 10 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars more Katie!
After reading this book, I was hoping that there would be another book written about Katie. I am so glad to find out that there is! Read more
Published on Feb. 3 2003 by laeney
4.0 out of 5 stars Another great read
This is the fourth Elizabeth Berg book I've read, and it has cemented my admiration for this writer. Read more
Published on July 2 2002 by Margaret M. Bell
4.0 out of 5 stars Growing up the life Katie does isn't easy.
Katie is back and this time she is in Missouri with her dad. This time she having a tough time adjusting to being in a new place and meeting people. Read more
Published on April 30 2002 by Lizzie
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