Monday, February 15, 2010

Audiobook Review: Never Change by Elizabeth Berg

Here is a summary of Never Change from the Shelfari website:

A self-anointed spinster at fifty-one, Myra Lipinski is reasonably content with her quiet life, her dog, Frank, and her career as a visiting nurse. But everything changes when Chip Reardon, the golden boy she adored in high school, is assigned as her new patient. Choosing to forgo treatment for an incurable illness, Chip has returned to his New England hometown to spend what time he has left. Now, Myra and Chip find themselves engaged in a poignant redefinition of roles, and a complicated dance of memory, ambivalence, and longing.

My Review:

This book will take you on a journey through the final stage of someone's life.  I think that I need to be a bit more selective when I choose these types of books, because although this was a good story, it may have been a little too soon after losing my sister to read something with this type of content.  

Myra has lived her whole life alone, not really reaching out or expecting much from others as she didn't seem to think that people would enjoy her as a friend.  She is a nurse that assists people with their needs in their homes and may have several clients in a day.  Getting the chance to know Myra's clients was kind of a fun and lighter part of the book.  One morning Myra realizes that Chip Reardon has been added to her client list and high school memories of her longing for Chip flood her mind.  But Myra is a professional and she should be able to handle caring for Chip and whatever needs arise as he prepares for his final stage of life because of a brain tumor.

Chip is thankful to see a friendly face that he knows when Myra shows up at his door.  You can tell that he is getting tired of being treated like a patient and hopes that Myra will start to spend time with him as a friend.  They do become much closer and Myra is happy to get to know Chip on such a personal level, but quickly becomes discouraged when Chip's girlfriend Diane shows up on her doorstep.  Since Diane is from out of town, Myra offers her spare bedroom to Diane for as long as she needs it.

During the time that the ladies are staying together you can tell that Myra never really had close, female friendships.  She actually was shocked when Diane suggested that Myra never allowed people to get close to her back in high school.  When Chip later brings to her attention that she is a wonderful person but just needs to let people into her life, it all comes together.

Myra has been with people as they are dying before and she is not afraid to be around them.  She finds it soothing in a way because these people are true and honest with themselves.  You can see the appreciation of life in the eyes of terminally ill people that most individuals just can't comprehend.  From personal experience this is such a special time and I will always have fond memories of the last days I had with my sister.  Of course it is heartbreaking, but I also have the memories of us laughing and enjoying each other's company during that time.

In a way Chip helped Myra as much as she helped him, by helping her find a piece of herself that she didn't know existed.  He helped to bring her out of her shell and realize that she is just as worthy of being loved as anyone.  She was a wonderful individual with so much to offer.  Myra just wasn't sure how she would be able to live without Chip by her side in the future.

I enjoyed this story with it's themes of love, dying, grief, and acceptance.  I have only read a couple of Elizabeth Berg's books, but I feel that she really developed the characters well in this novel.  I do recommend this as an audiobook, but not too soon after losing a loved one.

My Rating:  4/5

Disclosure:  I borrowed this book from the library to listen to for my own entertainment.


Booksnyc said...

This story does sound like it would be difficult. I read another of Elizabeth Berg's books (I forget the name now) and it centered on death and grief - it was absolutely gut-wrenching

DCMetroreader said...

This sounds sad, but worth it!

The Bumbles said...

I have not yet read any of her writing but have seen good things about them all over the place. Have you read Open House? That is one that I added a while ago to my to read list.

bermudaonion said...

That does sound like a good book, but I don't think this is the right point in my life for it.

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

I read this one several years ago, but I do recall enjoying it. Thanks for refreshing my memory by way of your review Jo Jo.

Veens said...

This sounds like a touching story, but not a book that I would want to read now.
Maybe later...

Darlene said...

Great review. I read this one a few years ago and I really enjoyed it. I bet it would be a good one to listen to.

Anonymous said...

I liked this one a lot. I can see that it wouldn't be the best choice after losing someone.