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Never Change Hardcover – May 22, 2001

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Atria; First Edition edition (May 22, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743411323
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743411325
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.9 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (219 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,165,521 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

Elizabeth Berg has a single great gift as a novelist. She creates heroines who are stuck and unhappy, yet deeply sympathetic. This may seem like an easy trick to pull off, but it's not. Think about it: usually when a character is mired in a problem--especially a problem stemming from her own reluctance to change, or fear of commitment, or lack of identity--the reader is ready within a few dozen pages to shout, "Pull yourself together!" and set the book aside. In contrast, Berg's characters seem like enjoyable challenges: problems with actual solutions.

In Never Change, Berg uses her gift to great advantage. Middle-aged Myra Lipinsky describes herself as "the one who sat on a folding chair out in the hall with a cigar box on my lap selling tickets to the prom, but never going." And despite a flourishing career as a visiting nurse, she feels as much an also-ran as ever. As the novel begins, in fact, high school seems to be rearing its ugly head again: Chip Reardon, the heartthrob of Myra's youth, has returned to town to live with his parents. Chip is dying from a brain tumor, and Myra becomes his nurse. Berg is not the kind of writer to lay bare the unsettling power dynamics of such a situation. Instead, Chip and Myra become friends and, well, learn how to love each other. It's a testament to the author's strong sense of character that we actually believe--and what's more, care about--Myra's emergence from her emotional cocoon. And the book is full of nice details, like this snapshot of children being read to at a library, "rising up on their knees to see the pictures, resting their hands unselfconsciously on those ahead of them so that they would not lose their balance." Such careful observations, recounted in Myra's voice, make us believe that she is a character worth knowing, and worth saving. --Claire Dederer

From Publishers Weekly

Oprah author Berg (her Open House was a 2000 Book Club selection) turns in another sweet, unprepossessing and reassuringly predictable novel whose characters experience loneliness, loss and healing. "Odd-shaped," and with an "unfortunate" face, Myra Lipinski has been lonely all her life; she trained as a nurse "because I knew it would be a way for people to love me." Now 51, she lives alone with her dog and works as a visiting nurse in Boston, caring for an array of eccentrics that includes the feuding Schwartz couple, the feisty DeWitt Washington and the anxious teenage mother Grace. Resigned to spinsterhood, Myra is secretly thrilled when her agency assigns her to care for a former crush, Chip Reardon, who has returned to his parents' home with end-stage brain cancer. In high school, Chip was a golden boy, athletic and clever, out of ugly duckling Myra's league. Now, though, he and Myra strike up a friendship based on their mutual loneliness and on Chip's resistance to his parents, who want him to pursue aggressive treatment for his cancer. Chip prefers to die peacefully, a decision that only Myra seems to understand. Chip and Myra become inseparable: he tags along on her patient visits and eventually moves into her house, where their budding friendship takes a romantic turn. On the brink of death, Chip helps Myra to realize that her isolation is as much self-induced as fated; throughout their lives, both he and Myra have shied away from human closeness. In an inspiring, well-deserved denouement, Chip's inevitable death forces Myra to embrace the world in all its bittersweet complexity. Berg's fans will be grateful for the same gift: a novel that serves as a gentle, if unambitious, reminder to "only connect." 10-city author tour.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

This was a very beautiful, very sad story.
Carol Jaeger
Myra has lived her life failing to recognize the amount of love she has spread to others through her nursing duties.
Haley Parnham
This book will make you smile, laugh and cry which is why I enjoy all of Berg's books.
Paula Hess

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

54 of 54 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 28, 2001
Format: Hardcover
...they'll stay with you long after. By the time you finish reading Never Change, you'll have a hard time remembering that Myra and her patient were just characters in a book. Berg makes them so real. She is a keen observer of oh so many little details--nuances that she picks up observing the patterns of everyday life. One can't help but wonder if the movie rights will follow soon? Seems this story would come to life on the screen--Myra, a caring, funny heroine who only appears to be self-assured. As a visiting nurse, her daily rounds include a delightful collection of patients that feel as real as your own funny old aunt or kibbitzing neighbor, or scared teenage mother you might know. When Myra takes on a new patient, a former high school crush of hers who is now 51 and dying of a brain tumor, Berg does what she does so well--any women will identify with the feelings, the humor, the insecurity that come pouring out. My only complaint is the story is too short. I read it in one night, savoring each page, and I didn't want it to end. Myra is someone I would like to have as a friend. Elizabeth Berg is wonderful!! After so many of the passages I read, I found myself smiling and nodding in agreement. She is so gifted when it comes to expressing what REAL women feel! I rated this book 5 stars only because the scale does not go to 6.
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53 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on May 15, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Even as a child Myra Lipinsky had no friends and failed to connect with anyone. She sold the tickets to the prom, but no male asked her to go with him. As an adult, she had become a visiting nurse. Her occupation is her only satisfaction as she is content with her solitary status especially since her dog Frank provides her with companionship.

At fifty-one, her high school secret crush Chip Reardon returns into her life when he is dying from an inoperable brain tumor. Chip refuses to accept chemo or radiation that will grant him a few more months to live, but at a dramatically reduced style of life. Chip moves into Myra's home where he teaches her to live and she teaches him to love.

Elizabeth Berg has written a beautiful and poignant love story centering on a person accepting his fate and living what time he has left in life to the fullest. Chip's gift to Myra is helping her to open up to her feelings even as she provides him with the nurturing and the support he needs at the end. NEVER CHANGE is a five-tissue box novel, for the tears that flow not out of sorrow, but out of living. Elizabeth berg has written one of the most dramatic and beautiful books of her career, one that celebrates life to the fullest despite the death sentence hanging over the hero's head.

Harriet Klausner
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40 of 42 people found the following review helpful By BeachReader on June 8, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Elizabeth Berg has given us another lovely and moving story, that of Myra Lipinsky, a 51-year-old visiting nurse in Boston who has never married and never really even had a good friend. My heart ached for this woman, to have never known the joy of having a buddy whom she could talk to, be with, confide in. Myra had never been asked on a date, never asked to go shopping with the girls or to a movie or a dance. People liked her and talked to her--they just did not become her friends. Yet she did not ask for pity. Her best friend is her dog, Frank, but Myra seems very satisfied with her life, her patients, her house, her routine, and her Porsche Carrera 911.
Myra's patients provide us with a cast of characters who are similar to those in an Anne Tyler book--odd, quirky, and likable despite their flaws. They have become Myra's "family" and friends. She said that she became a nurse because "I knew it would be a good way for people to love me. And for me to love them too."
Into Myra's life comes Chip Reardon, her high school love (unbeknownst to him) and every girl's dream boy, who has returned home to his parents' house in their small home town, ill with an end-stage brain tumor. She is assigned as the nurse to his case and says something so sad: "You know something bad about me? I thought only one thing. I thought, Good. Now I can have him." How she and Chip arrive at a different kind of loving relationship is a wonderful story as only Elizabeth Berg can tell it.
The writing in this book is graceful and lyrical. The author is a former nurse herself and although she did not practice nursing very long, she is obviously an astute observer of people as she seems to get them just right.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Denise Bentley on June 19, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Elizabeth Berg has done it again. She has given us a story with characters that feel so real, and insights so valid, they go straight to the heart of anyone who is lucky enough to pick up her book. Her greatest strength lies in her observation of the ordinary details of living. She is nothing short of a master as the words and thoughts flow effortlessly across the page.
Myra is a 51 year old Registered Nurse who works for a home care agency. Her new patient just happens to be Chip Reardon, a popular boy she loved from afar in high school, who has come home to die. Myra has been aloof all of her life, a wallflower, the watcher and never the center of life as it goes on around her. She is about to learn a very important lesson as she walks through the drama her life will become. Berg has added a few unexpected twists that keep us wondering till the end, leaving us for a time with a story that can go two ways. A wonderful book not soon forgotten. Another intuitive and embracing selection by Berg is PULL OF THE MOON. Kelsana 6/19/20
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More About the Author

Elizabeth Berg won the NEBA Award for fiction for her body of work, and was a finalist for the ABBY for Talk Before Steep. Her writing has appeared in numerous publications, including Ladies' Home Journal, Redbook, and the New York Times Magazine. She has also taught a writing workshop at Radcliffe College. She lives near Boston, Massachusetts.

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