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.
"Berg's last novel, Open House [BKL Je 1 & 15 00], was an Oprah Book Club selection, and her latest might very well make the cut for it has all the requisite ingredients for an Oprah pick--it features a strong, solitary woman who undergoes a personal transformation and must deal with an incurable illness. Fifty-one-year-old Myra Lipinski loves her work as a home-health-care nurse. An only child and unlucky in love, she is also profoundly lonely--"You know people like me. I'm the one who sat on a folding chair out in the hall, selling tickets to the prom, but never going." When her agency calls to ask if she can fit in a new client, she immediately says yes, for the new client is Chip Reardon, former high-school star athlete and every girl's dream boy. He is suffering from an inoperable brain tumor and has come home to die. As Myra helps Chip deal with his illness, his parents, and a former girlfriend, the two fall in love. Berg, usually so skillful at walking the fine line between maudlin and moving, falls squarely on the maudlin side this time. That's unfortunate because she has some very interesting things to say about what it means to be physically unattractive, especially for a woman, in our beauty-obsessed culture. Berg knows her audience well, and she expertly pushes women's hot buttons on a topic close to their hearts--it's women who will make this one a best-seller. Buy plenty. --Joanne Wilkinson"
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review:
"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. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved