John and Irene's marriage only lasted eight short years. They divorced when their daughter, Sadie, was 8-years-old. Irene moved away making her the prime caregiver to Sadie and John visited when he could and had Sadie every August.
Their marriage and relationship was tenuous at best. In my opinion, it failed because of Irene. She is an odd character who is deeply lonely and neither she nor John had much in common other than their beloved Sadie.
When something terrible happens to Sadie, they come together and realize that in all these years they've never really figured each other out or even really knew how they felt about each other.
I loved the story but found Irene a very odd person, her own worst enemy at times. She wasn't ever happy, thought differently and perceived things differently than most people, but isn't that what makes each of us unique? Although the story involved John, Sadie, Irene and a few friends, I felt the story focused more on Irene than anyone. At times while reading I just felt like I wanted to yell at Irene: "Okay, okay just shut-up will ya!!! Geez!!" Her incessant chatter and what I call whining was weighing heavily on my nerves. I kept thinking "why?" are John and Sadie trying so hard with Irene, she "kept herself" miserable and couldn't seem to pull herself out of this narcissistic, lonely, complaining place she was in. The story was well-written and any author who can evoke such involvement and emotion in me definitely gets my thumbs up!!
on October 17, 2011
Elizabeth Berg's Once Upon a Time, There Was You is a deeply moving exploration of the complex ways in which our relationships, past and present, shape us.
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