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Critical Praise

" Elizabeth Berg conjures the ordinary and consequently outrageous life of a twelve-year-old girl in the early '60s in Joy School...[She] perfectly recalls the popular culture of that time...Berg has a way of picking the choicest words for the smallest of events...As always, her style works beautifully--deceptively simple, conversational, and hip. "--USA Today"Much to the delight of Elizabeth Berg fans, Katie, the adolescent Army brat at the center of Berg's first novel, Durable Goods, returns as the focus of [Joy School]. In this latest work the author takes great care in exposing the loneliness that trips up her beloved character while also revealing the people and moments that truly do make this awkward age a 'Joy School.'... The adolescent internal monologue offered by Berg--with Katie second-guessing herself, fantasizing and exaggerating--is both hilarious and breathtaking. The teacher descriptions alone...deliver a book worth buying. "--San Francisco Chronicle"An opalescent...tale...Berg handles Katie's mystification with sweet aplomb, tracking surges with a meteorologist's delight.... The lesson of Joy School is not that weeping endureth a night, but that ordinary young humans must learn to endure themselves. "--Boston Magazine"Katie is funny, imaginative, irreverent, idiosyncratic, and deeply, unusually charming. She works her charms upon the reader, but perhaps more interesting, she works them upon the other characters in the novel....Though this is a story built around the theme of first love...Berg also manages to show how her narrator is looking for human connection in different ways and in different places. Through all these encounters, we see Katie trying to regain a faith that she lost upon the death of her mother, so that Joy School is, among other things, a meditation on the way early loss can radically shift a child's understanding of the world. "--The Boston Sunday Globe"Berg's characters are a treat: Vivid and quirky, they do more than fill in the background. These are people who encourage the reader to imagine what their own stories would be. "--St. Louis Dispatch"Berg's stories have a way of making you remember things you never thought you'd forget. She gives us all a voice and company through the trial we face. Her stories are powerful, true, and speak straight to the heart without ignoring the head. "--Nomad"Katie's guileless candor delights throughout the novel....One of the best things about this book is how funny it is. Don't read it anywhere you're not willing to risk being caught laughing aloud. "--Milwaukee Journal Sentinel As she has demonstrated in previous books, Berg can conjure character with a minimum of words and"a rainbow of nuance. The reader misses Katie the instant the book ends. "--Publishers Weekly (starred review)