True to Form: A Novel

Elizabeth Berg

Published by Washington Square Press, 2003
ISBN 10: 0743411358 / ISBN 13: 9780743411356
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Synopsis: Katie Nash -- the beloved heroine of Elizabeth Berg's previous novels Durable Goods and Joy School -- is thirteen years old in 1961, and she's facing a summer full of conflict. Her father has enlisted her in two care-taking jobs -- baby-sitting for the rambunctious Wexler boys and, equally challenging, looking after Mrs. Randolph, her elderly, bedridden neighbor. To make matters worse, Katie has been forcibly inducted into the "loser" Girl Scout troop, compliments of her only new friend Cynthia's controlling mother. Her only saving grace is a trip to her childhood hometown in Texas, to visit her best friend Cherylanne. But people and places change -- and Cherylanne is no exception. When an act of betrayal leaves Katie wondering just what friends are really for, she learns to rely on the only one left she can trust: herself.
Full of the joys, anguish, and innocence of American adolescence, True to Form is a story sure to make readers remember and reflect on their own moments of discovery and self-definition.

Review: In her 10th novel, True to Form, Elizabeth Berg finds her way into the year 1961 and into the head of 13-year-old Katie Nash at the start of her summer vacation. Katie's world is smooth and easy with endless possibilities and sunshine. You almost expect sitcom-style canned laughter when she whines in frustration or stomps up to her room and turns the radio way up, but then almost everything Katie does fits that era's squeaky-clean conventionalities. The younger daughter of a remarried widower, Katie craves popularity, a great summer job, and a direct line to the local DJ to make requests. Newly transplanted from Texas, she settles in with her only friend, Cynthia, who shares her views on status and appearance and boys. Between a regular babysitting gig for a household of little boys and caring for an elderly bedridden woman, her summer is off to a less than auspicious start. Cynthia's mother's plot to start a Girl Scout troop and to camp out for a weekend in their living room doesn't help. Berg's plot doesn't exactly mine new territory, but Katie emerges as a girl who sees the world differently from the rest of her peers. Her poetic perspective on her surroundings and her predicaments should eventually win readers over. The period backdrop feels unformed against this portrait of a young artist-to-be, but Katie imbues it with fresh eyes. --Emily Russin

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Title: True to Form: A Novel
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Publication Date: 2003
Binding: Paperback
Book Condition: Used: Good

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