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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 Details

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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The housekeeper is ironing and I am lying on the floor beside her, trying to secretly look up her dress. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully Written, Good Story May 16 2014
By Tara
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, light drama and believable characters. I thoroughly enjoyed it and looked forward to every new chapter. Berg captures the experience of a teenager beautifully.
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3.0 out of 5 stars High Hopes For This One May 9 2004
I've been wanting to read this for over a year now. Not sure what I was expecting, but it just wasn't "there". I read others by Berg & sadly, this is last on the list. I did get a few laughs out of it though. Berg does a great job in making us feel 13 again. Katie was an obviously likeable character with all her female pre-teen drama & you just couldn't help but smile.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as I hoped Jan. 8 2004
By dicey23
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". Well, it did not add up to Berg's other books at all, and I was very disappointed. Since I am in my early 20s, I found the character Katie to be nothing like a 13 year old. Her character was very unbelieveable. I constantly felt like I was rolling my eyes at Katie while I was reading. In Berg's other books, the characters are dynamic and interesting and believeable. This book was not all I hoped!
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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 Absorbing, entertaining, thoughtful June 20 2003
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. Well told story.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Joy -- In Unexpected Places... Dec 13 2008
"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."

These words sum up this story, about a 13-year-old girl, Katie, transplanted to Missouri after her mother's death, and subject to the mercurial moods of a stern, inaccessible father; she finds solace in the housekeeper and in her two friends - Cynthia, who is odd and whose grandmother actually interests Katie, with her loud, Italian ways and her penchant for cooking pasta in the middle of the night - and Taylor, a shoplifter, who introduces Katie to her larcenous skills and to make-out sessions at the drive-in theater.

And then there is Jimmy - a 23-year-old married man, who comes to her rescue one day when she has fallen through the ice while skating - and who pays her the kind of attention she is sorely lacking in her everyday life.

This coming-of-age tale skillfully describes a young girl who is out-of-place in her world - a world set in the fifties or sixties - and who searches for some kind of kinship with the cast of characters placed in her path.

We connect with her, in that the author paints a picture of this isolation in such a way that we can relate. We think - Oh, yes, I know what that feels like. And as the story comes to an end, we can feel the hope - just as she experiences it.

Joy School is memorable, hilarious and heartbreaking.

By Laurel-Rain Snow
Author of:
An Accidental Life, etc.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Joy School by Elizabeth Berg May 13 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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