We Are All Welcome Here By Elizabeth Berg

Paige Dunn is a stunning looking woman.  Everyone is always commenting on her beauty and her gentle soul.  She once even took care of Elvis Presley’s mother when she was a student nurse.

The really amazing thing however about Paige is that thirteen years ago while pregnant with her daughter she contacted polio and is paralyzed from the neck down.  Her husband, realizing that she was never going to get better, abandoned her and their baby girl, Diana.  Now at the age of thirteen, Diana lives with her mom on welfare and they rely on their African-American daytime nurse Peacie, and although they tell social services they have night help too, they can not afford it so Diana takes care of her mom at night.

As Diana becomes a young woman she becomes more and more unsettled about how she can now do the things other girls her age do.  She is unable to have sleepovers, or run and play all day in the summer.  She carries a huge responsibility with her mother and struggles with how poor they are.  When Peacie’s boyfriend Larue is badly beaten after trying to help African-Americans be able to vote, Diana starts to learn a lot about compassion, as well as race and class in the 1960’s.

Iron Lung used for Polio victims

What amazed me the most is what a strong and well written character Paige Dunn is.  She is confined to a wheelchair, has no use of anything from below the neck, yet she can command a household as thought she functioned like any other woman.  Where most women would drown in self-pity or be eaten up by anger, Paige had made up her mind to live life to the fullest and that is what she did.

I loved the relationship between Paige and her daughter Diana.  While Diana grumbled about how much she had to do to help, these two characters were so well written and in tune to one another it was enough to bring tears to my eyes.  Even when Paige is angry with her daughter (there is a particularity fantastic scene where they have a long mother daughter talk well into the night and the early morning hours that made me really appreciate this writing.  Not every author could pull off such a scene and make it feel believable.

In the end, I found there were times I felt for Paige, and there were times I felt for Diana.  What Elizabeth Berg ends up with is a story that will go right to your core, fill you with compassion, and finally…. make you look at the outside world in a whole new way.

I think I have just become a fan of Elizabeth Berg’s and have already checked out 4 more of her writings.

Amazon Rating

The 2011 WHERE Are You Reading Map has been updated to include We Are All Welcome Here

I borrowed this in audio version from my local library

20 thoughts on “We Are All Welcome Here By Elizabeth Berg

    1. Kathy I bet that was pretty incredible. I am currently enjoying a second read by her and finding her voice to remain as constant as it was in this one. There may be a whole “Berg” party over here….

  1. Elizabeth Berg has been one of my all-time favorite authors ever since I read some of her earlier works. Open House was an Oprah pick. I loved We Are All Welcome Here: for the writing; the settings; and as you say, the believable interactions between the characters.

    Her books are fairly short, too, which is a good thing, since the topics are often very “heavy.”

    I especially enjoyed The Art of Mending, What We Keep, and Home Safe….actually, I have enjoyed every one I’ve read.

  2. I love books with strong women characters. I seem to remember reading one by Berg where I was mad at the main character for not being stronger and more decisive! This sounds like a good one.

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