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Once Upon a Time, There Was You by Elizabeth…
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Once Upon a Time, There Was You

by Elizabeth Berg

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Elizabeth Berg readers may be disappointed in this one. Between its unrealistic plot and its self absorbed characters, there is little to keep the reader's interest, except the hope that it will improve. Spoiler alert: it doesn't. ( )
  shearon | Jul 27, 2013 |
Very Good! ( )
  bettypuddy | Jul 21, 2012 |
On their wedding day, even John and Irene had doubts about their marriage. Years later, divorced, dating other people, and living in different parts of the country, they seem to have nothing in common—nothing except their spirited eighteen-year-old daughter, Sadie. When tragedy strikes, Irene and John come together to support the daughter they love so dearly.
Berg is one of my favorite authors. She is a master at plotting, pacing and character development. Once started, it is usually impossible to put one of her books down. So, I was surprised at how disappointed I was with this book. The plot was disjointed and anti-climactic on many levels. I didn't like even one of the characters in this story, so it was hard to care how it turned out. I struggled to finish it. ( )
  lrobe190 | Jun 25, 2012 |
One day Sadie makes the decision to get into a car. It is a poor decision that will change her life and those of her divorced parents, Irene and John. Living in separate states, Irene and John come together to help their daughter through the family crisis and in the coming together, relive their own marriage and the reasons for its failure.

Once again the author brings forth characters that are believable. While I’ve read reviews that felt they were flat, I found I could relate to Irene and John. And I could understand what happened to their marriage. And the daughter, Sadie, seemed like a level-headed young woman who makes some very grown up decisions about her life and pointed observations regarding her parents. I always enjoy what Elizabeth Berg chooses to write. ( )
  punxsygal | Jun 14, 2012 |
I’m a sucker for relationship novels. I love romance, I love the idea of love. I love all aspects of it, the good and the bad. As you all know, I read with my heart and this novel had a lot that made my heart very happy.

The novel focuses on three separate relationships: Eighteen year old Sadie discovering love for the first time, her mom, Irene mending a broken heart (sort of) after a recently ended relationship, and John, Sadie’s father, cautiously stepping back into the dating game. Not only does Ms. Berg deal with romances for each character but with their relationships with each other.

Once Upon a Time, There Was You is pretty much a coming of age stories with Sadie, Irene and John each coming into their own. Sadie’s growth was sweet but forgettable, and John’s was a matter of timing. Irene is the story that I related to the most. Hers took the most courage. It has to be hard to be in your mid 50s starting over again. And she does it with style. By style, I mean she is the classic case of F.I.N.E.: Freaked out, Insecure, Neurotic and Emotional. I loved Irene. I think I fell in love with her when while placing a personal ad, she wrote this:

I believe in defacing books. I think one’s personal library should be full of books with broken spines and meaningful passages underlined, with pages marked by chocolate or coffee or grease stains. If there are comments or questions in the margins, even better.

I loved this, and this alone is one of the major reasons I will never abandon tree books for ebooks. Irene was kooky, a bit odd, funny, passionate. Her neurosis brought great humor to this novel that probably wasn’t meant to be funny. I guess I saw a bit of myself in her. Kind of trying her best, hoping for a good outcome, but scared to death of actually receiving that good outcome.

The other passage I had to underline was about marriage. As a single person, I think I’ll take this piece of advice to heart. It was the one thing that failed me in the past, and the one thing I am changing in my current relationship.

“You know, sometimes marriage is iron. Sometimes it’s tissue paper. And I think the times it’s tissue paper are when you need to keep things to yourself. Or you can end up making a mistake that you’ll regret forever.” Valerie to Irene.

Once Upon a Time, There Was You focused mainly on how well do you know someone, what to keep to/for yourself, and when you start to lose yourself (your authentic self) in a relationship. I really enjoyed how each character found a peace in their situation. They had to grow apart in order to be together. I was beautiful to read, and to experience along with the characters.

As much as I enjoyed this novel, the one major flaw was the abduction of Sadie. It served no purpose other than to reunite John and Irene to deal with the aftermath. I felt it was unnecessary. I kept waiting for more to come from that plot that never arrived. It left me feeling wanting.

Overall, this is another good Elizabeth Berg novel and a solid example of why she is one of my favorites. ( )
  ForSix | May 4, 2012 |
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To Kate Medina
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When John Marsh was a young boy, he used to watch his mother getting ready to go out for the evening.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Sharing nothing in common except their 16-year-old daughter, divorced parents John and Irene reconnect in the wake of a devastating tragedy and discover things about each other that they had not revealed during their marriage.

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