The Day I Ate Whatever I Wanted
(And Other Small Acts of Liberation)
Elizabeth Berg

Ballantine Books
Trade Paperback/288 pages
ISBN: 978-0345487537
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". . . writing is superb, the characters are full of fun and verve . . ."

This is one of those books that offer absolutely everything to the reader: Fun, enjoyment, entertainment — everything that the publishing industry is lacking ten-fold nowadays.

The very first story in this collection starts out with a huge, bang! A lady had been sent to “Weight Watchers” by her doctor because of her “pound status.” But as she walks into one of the meetings, there they are – two new people who don’t have an ounce of blubber on their bodies. In protest, this woman drives directly to “Dunkin Donuts” (my favorite place), and gets that amazing coffee, and a box full of the most scrumptious items in the land. A woman serves her from behind the counter who is described as one of those “tight fat people,” which means that the weight is there but it’s carried extremely well, and the woman has that attitude as if to say: If you don’t like it…well, you know the rest. This is the “perfect” story, showing the aggression that comes from living as a bigger person and seeing all these overly-skinny sanctimonious people who are a real pain! Besides…life is worth living! If you diet the entire time and enjoy none of the exotic beauty that food presents, what do you gain? Oh, yeah, a tinier casket.

Following this wonderful spirited opening comes story after story that present the joys, trials, ups and serious downs, of life. The stories focus on everything from peer pressure (adult and teenage), to lost loves coming back after decades, to those long unconditional friendships that last until the bright light comes to take one of you away. Teasing and taunting is also addressed – how people are beyond rude, from weight issues to diction issues; like when a young girl speaks with a vocabulary that includes the word, fixin’.

There is a story about Agnes — a wonderful lady who has dealt with forgetfulness her whole life – ever since she forgot to wear underwear when she was a kid and was “discovered” in her Catholic school. Agnes has been happily married to a man for decades and owns her own over-fifty dating service. But when her very first love calls up and wants to become a client, Agnes “sees” the beauty of her life and the choices she’s made.

There are stories of growing old and how children react to family traditions. But one of the most heartening, humorous, and rich tales is titled, How to Make an Apple Pie. In this incredible work, readers get to take part in a letter from Flo to a woman named Ruthie, and has more heart and soul than anything you’ll ever read.

Elizabeth Berg has done a truly wonderful job (again) composing and offering this “gift” of a novel to her readers. The writing is superb, the characters are full of fun and verve, and every emotion in life is touched upon that each and every reader will absolutely understand. Enjoy!

Reviewer: Amy E. Lignor