REVIEW: NEVER CHANGE, BY ELIZABETH BERG

You know people like me. I’m the one who sat in a folding chair out in the hall selling tickets to the prom but never going, the one everybody liked but no one wanted to be with.

A self-anointed spinster at fifty-one, Myra Lipinsky has endured the isolation of her middle life by doting on her dog, Frank, and immersing herself in her career as a visiting nurse. Myra considers herself reasonably content, telling herself, It’s enough, work and Frank. And it has been enough — until Chip Reardon, the too-good-to-be-true golden boy she adored from afar, is assigned to be her new patient. Choosing to forgo invasive treatment for an incurable illness, Chip has returned from Manhattan to the New England home of his childhood 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 Thoughts: From the very first page of Never Change, the author captured the characters by revealing the small and ordinary details of their lives, and showing us how Myra, the protagonist, fit into their worlds and connected with each of them.

For a woman who grew up feeling alone and unlovable, Myra had certainly developed that unique skill that endeared her to those she cared for in her role as a visiting nurse.

I loved how she bent the rules, bringing her patients into her life, doing little extra things for them, and nurturing them in ways that each of them needed most.

Her growing connection to Chip, the man who was that high school golden boy, the one she loved from afar, grew into a sweet and loving story that could probably happen only in these circumstances: a man dying and the woman who nurses him to the end becoming the center of his universe.

What Myra learns about herself, her capacity to love and be loved, was poetic and beautiful. I was rooting for both Chip and Myra, even though there was bound to be sadness along the way. Would Myra find a way to move on and redefine who she was in the world? Could the gifts she received from Chip help her on that journey? A beautiful story that earned 5 stars.

***

REVIEW: STRAIGHT FROM THE HEART, BY BARBARA DELINSKY

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In the opening lines of Straight from the Heart, we meet Heather Cole, a young twenty-something woman with a heart problem. The kind that will need surgical correction at some point, but one which does not seriously impair her daily activities.

She is eyeing Dr. Robert McCrae, as he delivers a speech at a medical conference. She is hoping he will be a good doctor for her to consult. But what she didn’t expect…well, he is handsome, only a few years older than she, and single.

The story of how the two connect and become lovers is one in which Heather fails to tell him about her heart problem until they are already in love.

There will be some issues…and then they will resolve them. A light romance that was enjoyable, but not one of my favorites by the author. 3.5 stars.